Sri Lanka lifts social media ban - GulfToday

Sri Lanka lifts social media ban


Sri Lankans light candles and pray outside St Anthony’s Church in Colombo on Tuesday. Associated Press

Sri Lanka on Tuesday lifted a social media ban that was imposed after the Daesh-claimed Easter bombings, a sign of security easing on Tuesday even as a Cabinet minister said he and others had received intelligence that they could be targeted by the same group in possible additional attacks.

President Maithripala Sirisena ended the blocking of Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and other popular sites, but asked the public to “act in a responsible manner” on social media, according to a government statement.

Sri Lanka’s health minister, Rajitha Senarathna, said he and seven other government ministers had been identified by intelligence officials as targets of possible additional suicide attacks this week, by the same Daesh-linked group of Sri Lankan militants.

Senarathna said he stayed at home on Sunday and Monday upon the officials’ request.

He declined to provide additional information about the source or type of intelligence.

Authorities initially blamed the Easter attacks on Mohammed Zahran and his followers.

Then the Daesh militant group on April 23 released images of Zahran and others pledging their loyalty to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the group’s shadowy leader.

In a video released on Monday, a man said to be Baghdadi praised the suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, calling them “part of the revenge” that awaits the West. It was Baghdadi’s first filmed appearance in nearly five years.

Authorities in Bangladesh on Tuesday were investigating the Daesh group’s claim of responsibility for an explosion in the capital that injured three police officers.

Police said a “very powerful” crude bomb thrown by unidentified assailants at a shopping complex in Dhaka late Monday injured two traffic officers and a community police officer.

According to global terrorism monitor SITE Intelligence, Daesh claimed the attack on “apostate policemen” without producing evidence.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church’s top official Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith in Sri Lanka said the government’s ban on the niqab was a good security step, but didn’t go far enough to protect the faithful from another attack.] Catholic masses in Sri lanka will resume on Sunday under tight security, Ranjith said.


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