The involvement of an international terrorist group in the deadly Easter Sunday attacks that rocked Sri Lanka is very worrying, said the country’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday.
Speaking during an interview with China Global Television Network (CGTN) in Colombo, Wickremesinghe said that the attacks have raised concerns over the influence of international terrorist groups in the country.
“We are no stranger to terrorism, but what has taken place earlier has been in respect of achieving political aims, whether it be in the north or the south. But this is different. It’s tied to international terrorism, and all these acts of destruction are for the sake of achieving what they call a religious goal, but really is not possible under Islam. It’s misguided people, but nevertheless it is very, very worrying and while we may have these targets, now the targets can change. They’re allowed to roam around,” said Wickremesinghe.
Asked if the terrorist attacks would lead to a flare-up of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, Wickremesinghe said that Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process is making in-roads across the country, even in Kandy District where a series of anti-Muslim riots took place last year.
“Unfortunately, Kandy was a community clash and there were connected riots in that area, but in this instance, reconciliation has worked. People have held together, and they say this terrorist activity, it has nothing to do with any religion or any ethnic group. Now that is heartening, but we have to ensure that no more terrorists attacks take place, and the Muslim community has disowned all these acts,” he continued.
Sri Lanka is currently working on legislation to curb the influence of international terrorist groups in the country, said Wickremesinghe.
“We need measures to deal with international terrorism. We brought in the emergency regulations. We will have to look at the regulations to be dropped and new regulations against the terrorist movements, some of them have been proscribed. But we are also preparing legislation to deal with the hiatus in our laws, taking action against those who join foreign terrorist movements and take part in activity,” said the prime minister.
More than 250 people were killed and 500 injured when suicide bombers attacked churches and up-scale hotels in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, April 21.
The Sri Lankan police have taken 58 suspects into custody.