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Lanka security situation '99 per cent' assured: Sirisena
Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena said the emergency laws in the country will be lifted within a month as the security situation is "99 per cent back to normal" following the deadly Easter suicide bombings.
Sirisena thanked Colombo-based diplomats from the UK, Australia, Canada, Japan, the US and European states for the intelligence expertise and cooperation provided by those countries, the President's Media Division (PMD) said in a statement.
He expressed his gratitude to the international community for the cooperation and assistance provided to Sri Lanka at this time of need and urged them to continue to provide economic assistance and lift the adverse travel advisories issued to tourists, it said.
President Sirisena explained to foreign ambassadors in Sri Lanka on Monday that he could guarantee that the security situation in Sri Lanka was "99 per cent ensured," his office said.
Sri Lanka imposed the emergency on April 23 to crack down on the nine suicide bombers who attacked three churches and as many luxury hotels April 21, killing 258 people and injuring 500 others.
The ISIS terror group claimed the attacks, but the government blamed the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) for the Easter Sunday bombings.
The emergency laws gave the police and the military extensive powers to arrest, detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.
"The emergency was essential because of the ongoing operations conducted by the security forces and the President expressed confidence that the emergency could be lifted at the end of the one month period," Sirisena's office quoted him as saying.
President Sirisena emphasised that current successful operations and the assistance of foreign expertise on intelligence could eliminate the threat of terrorism.
To prevent such terror attacks in the future, new regulations are being enacted and new security institutions will be set up under the restructuring of security services, the President said.
The emergency period is only for a month at a time. However, on May 22, Sirisena extended the state of emergency by a month.
Police say they have arrested over 80 suspects in connection with the attack.
Previously, Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe ave urged foreign governments to lift the adverse travel advisories issued to tourists.
Several countries, including India, US, UK and Australia, advised their citizens against non essential travel to Lanka after the terror attacks that also killed over 40 foreigners.
This dealt a telling blow on the local tourism industry. Booking cancellations caused a 70 per cent slump in arrivals, the industry leaders said.
Tourism accounts for about five per cent of Lanka's economy. Besides, India and China, the UK is also a major market. The country earned about USD 4.4 billion in 2018 from the tourism sector.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority said April recorded 166,975 foreign tourists in the country compared to 180,429 in April 2018, a 7.5 per cent dip in arrival of tourists from abroad.
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