Muslims in Sri Lanka were urged to pray at home on Friday and not attend mosques or churches after the State Intelligence Services warned of possible car bomb attacks, amid fears of retaliatory violence for the Easter Sunday bombings.
A second overnight curfew imposed nationwide ensured there was no repeat of Monday's violence against Muslims, who make up some 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's population of 21 million.
The shootout between troops and suspected militants erupted on Friday evening in Sainthamaruthu in Ampara district, to the south of the town of Batticaloa, site of one of the Easter Sunday blasts at three churches and four luxury hotels.
Sri Lankan authorities said on Wednesday they had the situation “under control” after mosques and Muslim-owned shops and businesses were targeted in a violent backlash after the Easter Sunday terror attacks.
Sri Lanka's government has come under increasing pressure over the revelation it failed to act on intelligence about planned attacks, which claimed nearly 360 lives, and Hemasiri Fernando had been widely expected to step down.
The death toll from the Easter Sunday suicide bombing attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka rose to 359, police said on Wednesday without providing any further details.
Sri Lanka’s government on Wednesday acknowledged “major” lapses over its failure to prevent the horrific Easter attacks that killed more than 350 people, despite prior intelligence warnings.
An extremist leader considered a central figure in Sri Lanka’s Easter suicide bombings died in the attacks, the president said on Friday as the police chief became the latest figure to quit over the failure to prevent the massacre.
The April 21 attacks, claimed by militant group Daesh, targeted three churches and three luxury hotels, shocking the island and shattering a decade of relative peace after the end of a 25-year civil war.