Sri Lanka expels 200 Muslim clergymen after the Easter attacks

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka Has More Than 600 Foreigners, Including Around 200 Muslim Clerics, Expelled Since Easter Suicide Attacks Attributed To A Local Jihadist Group, A Minister Said Against AFP Sunday. Home Secretary Said The Clergymen Had Entered The Country Legally, But In The Middle Of A Security Action After It Turned Out That The Attacks Had Exceeded Their Visas, For Which Fines Had Been Imposed And They Were Driven From The Island.

Given The Current Situation In The Country, We Reviewed The Visa System And Decided To Tighten The Visa Restrictions For Religious Teachers, Said Abeywardena.

"Out of those who were sent out, about 200 were Islamic preachers." The Easter Sunday bombings that killed 257 people And wounded nearly 500 were led by a local cleric who is known to have travelled to neighbouring India And had made contact with jihadists there .

The minister did not give the nationalities of those who have been expelled, but police have said many foreigners who have overstayed their visas since the Easter attacks were from Bangladesh, India, Maldives And Pakistan .

"There are religious institutions which have been getting down foreign preachers for decades," Abeywardena said . "We have no issues with them, but there are some which mushroomed recently . We will pay more attention to them." The minister said the government was overhauling the country's visa policy following fears that foreign clerics could radicalise locals for a repeat of the April 21 suicide bombings, which targeted three Christian churches And three luxury hotels .

Sri Lanka has imposed a state of emergency since the attacks And given wide powers to troops And police to arrest And detain suspects for long periods . House-to-house searches are being carried out across the country looking for explosives And propaganda material of Islamic extremists .