Sri Lanka Bans Burqa And Niqab Following Easter Attacks

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Arab News reported that the United States ambassador on Tuesday had announced that some of the militants involved in the Easter Sunday bombings on the island were likely still at large and could be planning fresh attacks.

"We have permitted people to leave their homes with faces uncovered as means to cooperate with the security forces", Fazil Farook, a spokesman for Jamiyyathul Ulema, or the Muslim theologists body, said.

- A series of eight devastating bomb blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing almost 160 people, including dozens of foreigners.

The government is maintaining a state of emergency which gives sweeping powers to security forces to arrest and detain suspects, although on Tuesday it lifted a ban on social media platforms. "No one should obscure their faces to make identification hard", Mr Sirisena's office said in a statement.

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The niqab and burqa - worn by Muslim women - were not specifically named.

Sri Lanka remains on high alert and Sunday church services were cancelled across the country over the weekend, as a precaution.

"All sorts of face covers that hinders the identification of individuals in a way that threatens national security shall be banned with effect from 29 April 2019 as per Emergency Regulations", the statement said.

Police think the National Tawheed Jamath, a local extremist group, may be behind the Easter bombings, but ISIS has claimed responsibility.

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Mohamed Hashim Mathaniya is the sister of Mohamed Zahran Hashim, the man Sri Lankan authorities believe was one of the leaders of the attacks.

Sri Lankan investigators, however, have identified nine suicide bombers, including a woman.

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For Sri Lanka's Muslims, who make up less than 10 percent of the country's population and have historically faced persecution by right-wing Buddhist groups, they fear such measures could soon open the door to greater reprisal. The victims included six suspected terrorists and six children were among the civilians killed.

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Several roads in the capital were closed Wednesday as President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attended a tightly guarded public ceremony marking the 26th anniversary of president Ranasinghe Premadasa assassination.

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