President Maithripala Sirisena called for the immediate lifting of a ban on social media and messaging platforms on Tuesday, April 30, that had been in place since the Easter bombings on Sunday, April 21. NetBlocks, an internet access monitoring site, confirmed the restoration of access to popular sites such as Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Viber. The government has also ceased implementing nationwide curfews as of Tuesday, though curfews remained in effect for three Ampara district (Eastern province) towns until at least 06:00 (local time) on Wednesday, May 1. Further curfews may be announced for those locations, Kalmunai, Sammanthurai, and Chavalakade, in the coming hours. Additionally, the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka would resume public services on Sunday, May 5, according to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. Heightened security measures will be in place at services, which are expected to be limited in number.
Other security measures remain in effects as tensions stay high and officials warn of future possible attacks as of Wednesday, May 1. At least 150 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks and security operations are ongoing. There have also been some reports of retaliatory mob violence against some business owners. US and UK governments have warned citizens to reconsider travel or postpone nonessential travel. Increased deployment of security personnel, road blocks, checkpoints, and other security measures are likely throughout the country in the coming days and weeks, particularly in Colombo, at and on routes to Bandaranaike International Airport (CMB), and in eastern cities, including Batticaloa and in Ampara district.
A series of coordinated bombings struck Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday (April 21), killing at least 253 people, including 40 foreign nationals, and wounding approximately 500 others. Churches and prominent hotels in Colombo, Negombo, and Batticaloa were targeted in the attacks. Authorities blamed a local Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama'ath, for the attacks, claiming that the group planned the bombings with assistance from an international terrorist organization. The Islamic State (IS) later claimed responsibility for the attack via its media arm on April 23.
Security forces conducted a raid on a suspected safe house in Sammanthurai on Friday, April 26, resulting in three suicide bombers to detonate their explosives inside the compound. At least 15 people were killed in the incident. Other security operations in Ampara district yielded large amounts of explosives and other bomb-making materials.
Individuals in or traveling to Sri Lanka, particularly Colombo, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, anticipate heightened security measures and associated disruptions, report suspicious behavior and objects to the police, avoid high-profile targets (e.g. churches and other places of worship, government buildings, popular tourist sites or areas frequented by Westerners, etc.), and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
Travelers flying to or from CMB are advised to allow at least four hours to pass through security checkpoints and anticipate increased security and possible delays.
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