Sri Lanka calls off May Day rallies amid suicide bomb fears

Apr. 30 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s main political parties have agreed to call off May Day rallies scheduled for Monday because of fears that large gatherings could attract suicide bombers, a government minister said. Plan Implementation Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said there was a consensus among political parties to avoid large meetings after a female suicide bomber on Tuesday killed herself and 10 others inside army headquarters in Colombo.

“We made a request to all parties not to have their May Day rallies this year,” Rambukwella, who is also the government defence spokesman, told AFP.

“It is not an order or anything like that, but something done voluntarily and through consensus.”

Sri Lanka’s political parties have traditionally held gatherings attracting tens of thousands on May Day, international labour day.

“I am very happy that all have responded very well. We felt that if there were large crowds gathering at public places, they could be targets for bomb attacks,” the minister said.

Some of the decorations and platforms set up for Monday’s celebrations were being removed at key meeting grounds in Colombo, where then-president Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated by a suicide bomber duri