News Alerts

01 May 2019 | 02:10 PM UTC

Sri Lanka: Curfew renewed in Eastern province cities May 1 /update 2

Sri Lanka News Alert

Government renews curfew in Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, and Chavalakade (Eastern province) cities May 1; heightened security presence likely over the coming days and weeks

TIMEFRAME expected from 5/1/2019, 12:00 AM until 5/8/2019, 11:59 PM (Asia/Colombo). COUNTRY/REGION Sri Lanka, Bandaranaike International Airport, Eastern province, Colombo

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Event

The government has renewed curfews in Sammanthurai, Kalmunai, and Chavalakade (Ampara districtEastern province) from 21:00 (local time) Wednesday, May 1, to 05:00 on Thursday, May 2. The move comes as security forces have staged several counterterrorism raids in the past week across Ampara district, where police reportedly dismantled explosive and weapons caches and killed at least 15 people in suspected militant safe houses. 

While the government has announced it will cease nationwide curfews, other security measures remain in effects as tensions stay high and officials warn of possible future attacks as of Wednesday. At least 150 people have been arrested in connection with the Easter Sunday (April 21) 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, roadblocks, 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.

Context

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 April 26, prompting 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 resulted in the seizure of large amounts of explosives and other bomb-making materials.

Advice

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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