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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sri Lanka lifts social media ban imposed after Easter blasts

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka’s president lifted a nationwide ban on social media sites Tuesday, a day after he used emergency powers to ban veils worn by conservative Muslim women as part of a security clampdown following Easter suicide bomb attacks.

President Maithripala Sirisena ended the blocking of Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and other popular sites, but asked the public to “act in a responsible manner” on social media, according to a government statement.

The government had said it was seeking to curb the spread of misinformation when it blocked social media in the wake of the April 21 bombings at churches and luxury hotels that killed 253 people.

Sri Lankan officials have warned that suspects linked to the attacks are still at large.

On Monday, the Islamic State group’s shadowy leader claimed to appear for the first time in five years in video released by the extremist group’s propaganda arm. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to whom the suicide bombers in the Easter attacks apparently pledged their loyalty, claimed the bombings in Sri Lanka were “part of the revenge” that awaits the West.

Authorities initially blamed the attacks, targeting three hotels and three churches, on a local militant named Mohammed Zahran and his followers. Then the Islamic State group on April 23 released images of Zahran and others pledging their loyalty to al-Baghdadi.

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo and the Catholic Church’s top official on the island, has been a vocal critic of the government’s apparent failure to share near-specific intelligence on the Easter plot and some of the suspects involved.

Ranjith told reporters Tuesday that the ban on niqab, a black veil made of thin fabric, often with a small opening from which a woman’s eyes can peer out, was a good step.

from World – The Himalayan Times http://bit.ly/2UOV8y4

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