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Sri Lanka court orders remains of Easter attacker moved after protests

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COLOMBO (Reuters) – A Sri Lankan court on Friday ordered police to exhume and relocate the remains of an Easter Sunday suicide bomber buried in a public cemetery in the eastern district of Batticaloa, after residents’ protests stoked tension.

Easter Sunday attacks on churches and hotels across Sri Lanka killed more than 250 people in the country’s worst suicide bombings since it defeated dissident Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, ending a 26-year-long civil war.

Hundreds of people, including the relatives of those killed in the attack at Zion Church in Batticaloa, protested this week over the burial of the militant in a Hindu cemetery nearby, saying it hurt their sentiments.

Protesters blocked roads and law enforcement fired tear gas shells to disperse them, but an uneasy calm has prevailed since, police said.

“The remains will be exhumed on Monday and kept in a mortuary until the government agent finds a suitable place to bury them,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told Reuters.

The bomber was buried in a Hindu public cemetery after Muslims declined to allow his burial in a community graveyard.

Police say at least nine members of two little-known local Islamist outfits, the National Thawheedh Jamaath (NTJ) and Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim, carried out the bombings.

The government last week withdrew an emergency law imposed after the Easter attacks that had allowed police and military to detain and interrogate suspects without court orders.

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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