Sri Lanka has expelled over 600 foreign nationals, including around 200 Islamic clerics, following a security crackdown after a series of deadly coordinated suicide bombings on Easter Sunday perpetrated by Islamic terror group, the country’s home minister Vajira Abeywardena announced on Sunday (5 May).
According to the minister, the Islamic clerics had entered the country legally, but were found to have overstayed their visas, for which fines were imposed and they were expelled from the island.
"Considering the current situation in the country, we have reviewed the visas system and took a decision to tighten visa restrictions for religious teachers," Abeywardena added.
"There are religious institutions which have been getting down foreign preachers for decades. We have no issues with them, but there are some which mushroomed recently. We will pay more attention to them”, Abeywardena said.
The minister added that the government was overhauling the country's visa policy following fears that foreign clerics could radicalise locals for a repeat of the 21 April suicide bombings, which targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels.
Abeywardene did not divulge 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.
Islamic State took responsibility for the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 257 people and wounded nearly 500.
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