Sri Lanka Buddhist monks slam anti-Muslim riots

12 March, 2018, 10:49 | Author: Simon Thompson
  • Sri Lanka declares state of emergency in wake of communal violence

Sri Lankan troops today guarded mosques and facilitated Friday prayers as authorities stepped up security in the violence-hit Muslim neighbourhoods in Kandy district after four days of riots that have left at least two persons dead. The majority are Sinhalese, a largely Buddhist ethnic group. The arson, carried out by Sinhalese mobs, followed the death of a Sinhalese man who died of injuries from an altercation with a group of Muslim youth over a road-rage incident.

Police officials said that tight security would remain in place throughout the district to ensure that there was no relapse into violence amid concerns among Muslims about possibility of attacks during Friday prayers.

"We have arrested 10 key suspects, including Amith Weerasinghe, who orchestrated and led these attacks", police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told reporters in Colombo, adding that another 75 were detained.

Sri Lanka's Muslims make up about 9% of its 21 million people and mostly live in the east and centre of the island.

The military maintained a heavy deployment in Kandy and schools remained shut, but authorities said they will reopen after the weekend.

The Sri Lankan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission issued a statement saying that the ban was necessary to "identify those who are posting hate speech & inciting violence in Kandy".

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A senior police official said disciplinary action will be taken against officers in the Anamaduwa area for failing to prevent the restaurant attack. India, already concerned about China's growing influence in Sri Lanka, will be anxious by any strife with ramifications for regional security.

The chief custodian of the UNESCO-listed temple, Pradeep Nilanga Dela, said foreign tourists and pilgrims were flocking to the shrine despite the tensions.

Some Buddhist nationalists have protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

"There is some fear among Muslims that they could be targeted ..."

Activists and Buddhist monks staged demonstrations in Colombo on Friday condemning the violence against the Muslim minority and asking the government to end impunity for such attacks.



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