National Thowheeth Jamath, two other Islamist extremist organisations banned in Sri Lanka; use of drones prohibited indefinitely
Colombo: Sri Lankan government has banned three Islamist extremist groups, including the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) that carried out the country's worst terror attack on Easter Sunday in which over 250 people were killed.
President Maithripala Sirisena issued an extraordinary gazette banning a number of extremist organisations on Monday. He also prohibited the use of drones in the country till further notice. According to the Gazette, the National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ), the Jamaathe Millaathe Ibrahim (JMI), and the Willayath As Seylani (WAS) organisations have been banned.
A Sri Lankan army soldier secures the premises of a Catholic church during Sunday Mass in Colombo. AP
On 21 April, nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels, killing 258 people, including 44 foreigners 10 of them Indians, and injuring over 500 others.
The Islamic State terror group claimed the attacks, but the government blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ). Over 1,000 have been arrested since the attacks. Sri Lanka's police say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings.
Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority. Muslims account for 10 per cent of the population and are the second-largest minority after Hindus. Around seven per cent of Sri Lankans are Christians.
On Monday, the Sri Lankan government enforced a countrywide curfew and blocked social media platforms to stop people inciting violence as communal violence spread to new areas in the island nation in the worst unrest since Easter Sunday bombings.
Police also fired tear gas at mobs attacking mosques and shops owned by Muslims in various parts of the country.
Meanwhile, Sirisena has also prohibited the use of drones in the country till further notice. "The navigation of any unmanned aircraft or drone in or over the territory of Sri Lanka by any person other than a member of Triforces or police is prohibited until further notice," another Gazette notification said.
Earlier, Sri Lankan Civil Aviation Authority banned the use of drone and unmanned aircraft following the devastating terror attack on Easter Sunday.