Catholic Sunday Masses across Sri Lanka have been canceled indefinitely as the country battles security threats following Sunday's attacks that left more than 250 dead, with officials also urging Muslims to stay home during traditional Friday prayers.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Catholic leaders made the decision to cancel Masses indefinitely as authorities continue to carry out operations in response to the bombings that targeted several Easter Sunday Masses, as well as a tourist hotel.
Officials also reportedly urged the country's Muslims, heavily clustered in the capital city of Colombo, to remain home Friday instead of attending prayers at mosques.
“Everyone is nervous,” one Colombo resident told the AP. “Not just the Muslims. Buddhists, Christians, Hindus — everybody’s nervous.”
Authorities engaged with suspects said to be linked to Sunday's attacks Friday night, according to the AP, even as Sri Lankan officials announced that the mastermind behind the strike, a hard-line Muslim preacher, likely died in the attacks.
“We will completely control this and create a free and peaceful environment for people to live,” Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters on Friday, according to the AP.
A revised death count Friday stated that an estimated 253 people died in Sunday's attacks, including four American citizens.