COLOMBO: A week after serial explosions ripped through Sri Lanka on Easter, the President’s office on Sunday banned any “covering of face” to conceal identity even as one of the brothers of two suicide bombers who blew themselves up was arrested by special task force (STF).
President Maithripala Sirisena’s office said covering the face in order to avoid the identification of a person will be banned with effect from Monday to ensure public safety. Sirisena took the decision under the Emergency Regulations.
On the first Sunday after Easter, no mass was held in any church across the country. People either prayed near churches or in homes even as curfew in the country was lifted, barring the areas in Kalmunai, Sammanthurai and Chavalakade.
In a raid carried out in Dematagoda in Colombo, the STF arrested the elder brother of two suicide bombers, Mohamed Ibrahim Ifran Ahmed. Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said at a media briefing that Ahmed was picked up from a house in Mahawila Scheme in Dematagoda.
Teams of police and army troops conducted search operations across the country, arresting suspected militants and seizing ‘terror’ material. A German-manufactured air gun and two swords were seized from Ahmed.
Soon after the Easter Sunday bombings, police had taken Ahmed’s father, billionaire-spice trader Mohamed Ibrahim, into custody after they found that his two sons, Mohamed Ibrahim Insaf Ahmed and Mohamed Ibrahim Ilham Ahmed, were among those who carried out the attacks that killed 253 people. They had blown themselves up at Cinnamon Grand hotel and Shangri-La Hotel. Two more of Ibrahim’s sons were also arrested while another is on the run. According to reports, Ibrahim has nine children.
Gunasekara said a woman and child rescued from Sahindamarudu in Ampara district in Sri Lanka’s Eastern Province after a gun battle with terrorists on Friday have been identified as wife and child of the mastermind of the bombings, Zahran Hashim.
Abdul Cader Fathima Sadiya and her four-year-old child Mohamed Zahran Ruzaina, who were injured in the shootout, are undergoing treatment at the Ampara Base Hospital, he said. Zahran’s sister and brother-in-law had identified the two victims as the mastermind’s wife and daughter.
Fifteen people, including six suicide bombers, six children and three women, were killed in the exchange of fire in Sahindamarudu.
Meanwhile, police recovered gemstones worth more than Rs 30 million (Sri Lankan rupee) and currencies from the house which they raided in Dematagoda.
During another search in Wanathavilluwa, police recovered six revolvers, a T56 weapon and a stock of ammunition buried in a plot of land.
(With agency inputs)

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