By Malathi Nayak, BBC News, Colombo
Thalasani says Sri Lanka will consider tougher restrictions on Chinese investment Security at airports and land ports in Sri Lanka has been toughened to avoid a repeat of the suicide bombings that killed about 250 people in January. The country has reopened two international air routes, restored a full Sunday newspaper delivery service and taken steps to calm public anger against foreigners. There has been a sharp increase in the number of deadly attacks by unidentified attackers in the southern town of Galle. ‘Very limited’ Foreigners can again travel freely through the Colombo international airport. But people with Sri Lankan flags on their passports have been banned from the country. As the Sri Lankan government raced to reassert its control over a region in the wake of the bombing, the authorities took extra security measures which were welcomed by investors. Since most of the bombings were in the Malwathuwa area – where many factories are found – the authorities have been trying to find out who was behind the attacks. This was not handled well as a recent survey by the Sri Lankan government revealed that about 60% of the people in the area did not believe in the bombing at all. Government officials say they have now taken control of the environment. Correspondents say journalists, diplomats and tourists now need security clearance. Protests over Chinese money A critical move was a series of government bans on planting crops. This closed down thousands of small farmers’ livelihoods, especially around the Galle area which has been a highly sensitive part of the country for a number of years. Sri Lanka will now consider whether to tighten its opposition to Chinese direct investment in sensitive areas. The government says it is still in discussion with the Chinese government about new rules for investments. Yet Colombo insists that it is not against Chinese money, which helped build hospitals and sewage systems during the civil war. Yet by now Sri Lanka should have been sending China and other foreigners the message that it cannot tolerate attacks by “men in white”, as the bombing is known. The government says it is searching for culprits It will take many months and, according to some analysts, years, to complete the task of bringing to justice those behind the blasts. Even those who were involved only briefly were jailed and an eyewitness to the first suicide bomber killed. Security analysts say there are also many groups who are still conducting campaigns against foreigners. Sri Lanka is a majority Sinhalese society, many of them Buddhists who support the government and whose mosques remain at the heart of local life.
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