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Two Maldivians in custody in Sri Lanka

Four students arrested from Negombo are due to be released.



Six Maldivian men were detained in Sri Lanka last week during security operations launched in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday bombings.

They included four Maldivian students in Negombo, a city north of the capital where a suicide bomber killed more than 100 people at a Roman Catholic church, a foreign ministry official told the Maldives Independent.

The other two men have been remanded to police custody until May 10.

The Maldives Independent understands the four students will be released without charges within the week. They were arrested over illegal ownership of an air rifle.

The others were arrested in Colombo after police found “ISIS-related literature” in their house. The Islamic State terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out by a small local Muslim hardline group.

According to local media, the owner of the apartment and a Maldivian who was in Colombo for medical purposes were arrested over a book called ‘Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS,’ a Pulitzer-winning work of nonfiction that was being used by a student researcher for his doctoral thesis.

As Sri Lankan police continued search operations across the country, Maldivians have been taken in for questioning for various reasons, including visa issues, foreign ministry communications director Miuvan Mohamed told the Maldives Independent.

The Sri Lankan president pledged to check every household in the country after the bombings of churches and hotels left 250 people dead. A nationwide state of emergency was declared to grant the security forces sweeping powers to conduct searches and arrest suspects. Suspects can be held for up to 90 days without a court warrant.

Thousands of Maldivian families reside in the neighbouring country.

On Saturday, the foreign ministry urged Maldivians to stay indoors, observe curfew hours and to refrain from taking photos of security operations.