Sri Lanka marks May Day without rallies due to security concerns

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (left) and President Maithripala Sirisena attend a commemoration ceremony to mark the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Sri Lanka's then-president Ranasinghe Premadasa in Colombo on May 1, 2019.
Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (left) and President Maithripala Sirisena attend a commemoration ceremony to mark the 26th anniversary of the assassination of Sri Lanka's then-president Ranasinghe Premadasa in Colombo on May 1, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (DPA) - Sri Lanka's main political parties on Wednesday (May 1) marked May Day without outdoor rallies, respecting an appeal over security concerns after the Easter Sunday bombings left 253 dead.

The political parties held meetings confined to halls and limited to party members instead of the traditional large rallies where they draw tens of thousands from all parts of the country.

The political parties said they were planning to have their largest possible rallies to show their strength ahead of presidential elections due to take place by December.

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe attended an outdoor commemorative event for a former president killed in a suicide bomb attack on May Day.

Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed on May 1, 1993, at a rally when a suicide bomber from the Tamil rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) set off an explosion.

There was tight security in the capital as the security forces continued operations throughout the country searching for people involved in the Easter Sunday bombings which have been blamed on Islamist extremist groups.

More than 250 people, some of them directly linked with two Islamist organisations blamed for the bombings, are in custody.

Explosives, ammunition and propaganda material for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been found during the search operations.

The bombings were carried out in three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations.