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Sri Lanka government orders new curfew after attacks

Published: Updated:

The Sri Lankan government on Monday ordered a new night-time curfew as tensions remained high after a series of suicide bomb attacks that left at least 290 dead.

The government information department said the curfew would run from 8:00pm (1430 GMT) on Monday until 4:00am on Tuesday.

An indefinite curfew ordered Sunday after the attacks was lifted early Monday but a two-day holiday was decreed in a bid to reduce public traffic.

The streets in the capital, Colombo, were largely deserted Monday morning, with most shops closed and a heavy deployment of soldiers and police.

Stunned clergy and onlookers gathered at St. Anthony’s Shrine, looking past the soldiers to the damaged church that was targeted in one of the blasts.

The nine bombings of churches, luxury hotels and other sites was Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended a decade ago.

Police the death toll, which was 207 late Sunday, had risen overnight to 290.

Muslim leaders demand ‘maximum punishment’

In a related development, top Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka on Monday demanded “maximum punishment” for the perpetrators of the suicide bomb attacks.

The comments came as the government refused to give details of at least 24 people arrested over the Easter Sunday attacks for fear of fanning ethnic tensions. Scores of Christians were among the dead.

“We urge the government to provide security to all religious sites and to give maximum punishment to everyone involved in these dastardly acts,” said the All Ceylon Jamiyyathuul Ulama, or council of Muslim theologians.

“On behalf of the Sri Lankan Muslim community we offer our condolences to the people of Christian faith and extend our hands of friendship in solidarity.”

The top theologians added in a statement that they had met the Archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith following the attacks on three churches celebrating Easter mass.

The National Shoora Council, a group of 18 Muslim organisations also expressed condolences and said the government must not “leave any stone unturned in its efforts to apprehend the culprits whoever they may be and to whatever part of the populace they may belong to.”