President Maithripala Sirisena has banned all kinds of face coverings, inculding burkas, that many conceal people’s identities a week after the Easter Sunday bombings.
The law which takes place from Monday, came after the Cabinet had proposed laws on face veils at a recent meeting.
The head of Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholics expressed concerns that an official investigation into the Easter bombings will end up being a “flop”.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith slammed what he described as Sri Lanka’s culture of impunity, saying many high-profile assassinations over the past 30 years remained largely unsolved.
“There is a certain amount of suspicion among our people that there will be no more follow-up, only words… If they [the authorities] are sincere, they must have a thorough investigation,” he said.
The cardinal said he had heard that President Maithripala Sirisena had appointed a commission of inquiry into the massacre.
Sri Lankan forces have killed or arrested most of those linked to the Easter suicide bombings and the country is ready to return to normality, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said.
But the prime minister said the government had planned tougher laws to deal with “extremists” and foreign clerics teaching in Sri Lanka illegally will be expelled.
The Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people were carried out by a “small, but a well-organized group”, Wickremesinghe said in a statement.
“Most of them have been arrested. Some have died,” he said. “Now we are able to return to normality. We should all now help restore the normal life of the community.”
Wickremesinghe added “jihad terrorism” must be ended immediately.
“There are several foreigners working as teachers in our country without work visas. In consultation with the Muslim religious affairs ministry and the home ministry, we will expel them from the country,” he said.
Wickremesinghe did not give a number or the nationalities of the clerics. The prime minister also thanked the minority Muslim community for tipping off authorities about dangerous individuals.
Armed police launched a search of the headquarters of the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ), suspected of being behind the suicide bombings on churches and hotels that killed more than 250 people, a Reuters witness said.
The raid took place at the NTJ’s base in the eastern town of Kattankudy a day after the group was banned under new emergency laws.
Police believe that Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of the Easter Sunday attacks, led the group or a splinter faction to mount the attacks in Colombo as well as a church in Batticaloa in the east.
The father and two brothers of the suspected mastermind of Easter Sunday bombings were killed when security forces stormed their safe house two days ago, police sources and a relative of the suicide bombers have told Reuters news agency.
Zainee Hashim, Rilwan Hashim and their father Mohamed Hashim, who were seen in a video circulating on social media calling for “all-out war against non-believers”, were among 15 killed in a fierce gun battle with the military on the east coast on Friday, four police sources said.
Niyaz Sharif, brother-in-law of Zahran Hashim, the suspected ringleader of Sunday bombings, told Reuters the video showed Hashim’s two brothers and father.
Cardinal calls suicide attacks ‘insult to humanity’
Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic leader has condemned the Easter attacks as “an insult to humanity” as the tense and grief-stricken country marks a week from the suicide attack.
The Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, held a private mass after cancelling all public services amid fears of a repeat of the bombings that killed 253 people.
A heavily-guarded vigil was held outside St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo at 8:45am, the moment a bomber struck the church last week, killing dozens of worshippers.
Security high as Sri Lanka marks one week from attacks
The tense and grief-stricken South Asian country has marked a week since suicide bombers attacked three churches and four hotels.
The Sri Lankan military is still hunting for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS)-linked fighters and security across the country remains high.
Thousands of Sri Lankan troops remained on the streets, guarding churches and mosques for the symbolic day.
Sri Lanka bans two groups linked to Easter bombings
President Sirisena has banned two groups linked to the Easter bombings – the National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibraheem (JMI) – under emergency powers that came into effect on Tuesday.
Dharmasri Ekanayake, a spokesman for the president, said the move allowed the government to confiscate any property belonging to the two organizations.