The Sri Lankan government on Monday extended the state of emergency by another month to maintain “public security” after the Easter Sunday bombings on April 21 killed more than 250 people at churches and hotels, the Colombo Page reported.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena issued a extraordinary gazette notification to extend the emergency despite his previous statement in June that it will not be extended again.
“I am of the opinion that by the reason of a public emergency in Sri Lanka, it is expedient, so to do, in the interest of public security, the preservation of public order and the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the life of the Community,” the notification read.
According to the Sri Lankan Constitution, Emergency can be declared for a month at a time, and must be ratified by Parliament within 10 days. The state of emergency gives sweeping powers to the security forces to arrest and detain people.
The extension of the Emergency comes as a surprise. In May, Sirisena had told diplomats from Australia, Canada, Japan, the United States and European states that the situation was almost back to normal, and he would allow the Emergency to lapse on June 22.
The Sri Lankan Police have arrested over 1,000 suspects following the attacks. Police officials claimed that all those responsible for the blasts have either been killed or arrested. However, the investigations into the suicide bombings at the three churches and three luxury hotels are still underway.
On July 9, the Sri Lankan magistrates’ court had granted bail to the country’s police chief and its former defence secretary in connection with the Easter attacks. The Colombo magistrates’ court was supposed to hear the case on Monday. They were first two state officials to be arrested for allegedly failing to prevent the bombings.
The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for the bombings, which took place despite repeated warnings from Indian intelligence that an attack was imminent in the country.