Sri Lanka Confirms Death Of Radical Leader In Easter Bombings
Muslim Affairs Minister Abdul Haleem had urged mosques to cancel Friday prayers in solidarity with the Catholic church which has suspended all public services over security fears.
Armed police with sniffer dogs checked everyone entering major mosques.
Friday prayers at Dawatagaha Jumma Masjid in Colombo regularly attracts up to 700 worshippers, but only about 100 turned up this week, according to the mosque chairman Reyyaz Salley.
“We are sending a message to extremists that we will not be scared or deterred,” said Salley.
“But the main reason we are here is that we want to say a special prayer for the victims of the church bombings.”
The government has urged national unity and warned against a backlash but a group of Ahmadi Muslim refugees in Negombo, the site of one of the attacked churches, has fled their homes after facing intimidation, activists said.
Dozens of foreigners died the attacks and the government said it expected the number of overseas tourists to fall by 30 percent this year which would cost $1.5 billion in revenues.
Samaraweera said the country could take up to two years to fully recover.
Tourism is a foundation of the Sri Lankan economy which suffered last year from a three-month-long political crisis between the president and prime minister.
Several countries, including Israel, Australia and Britain, have warned their citizens against visiting Sri Lanka because of the attacks.
Authorities reduced the death toll from 360 dead to 253, blaming badly mutilated bodies that were double counted.
Health Ministry director-general Anil Jasinghe said the “very complex nature of the human remains” had made it hard for forensic experts to initially compile an accurate toll. He said staff had carried out a “grim task”.
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