Sri Lanka situation under control after anti-Muslim riot

Clay Curtis
May 15, 2019

Sri Lanka has declared a nationwide curfew for Tuesday, marking the second night of restrictions.

"If not adequately dealt with, the recent violence has the potential to escalate even further", the advisers said in a statement.

Two residents of Thunmodara told Reuters that a mosque and some Muslim-owned shops were attacked in the town in Kurunegala district that was hardest hit by the rioters.

"There are hundreds of rioters, police and the army are just watching".

Wickremesinghe said the unrest would hinder investigations into the April 21 attacks that targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels, killing 258 people and wounding almost 500.

A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings - which the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group claims to have helped - and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in an address to the nation, said the military has been asked to quell the anti-Muslim riot and urged public cooperation to the security forces to bring the situation under control.

Sri Lankan soldiers patrol a road of Hettipola on top of an armored vehicle, after a mob attack in a mosque in the nearby village of Kottampitiya, Sri Lanka May 14, 2019.

One man died after being admitted to hospital with stab wounds, an officer at Marawila hospital said.

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Authorities had earlier in the day reimposed curfew in several towns of the still shaken Buddhist-majority country and temporarily blocked social media websites after a Facebook post sparked the anti-Muslim riots.

"They have burnt our mosques and smashed many shops owned by Muslims", a resident told Reuters by telephone, asking not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's population and Christians about 7.6 per cent.

In the north-western town of Kiniyama, windows and doors to a mosque were smashed and copies of the Koran thrown on the floor.

Authorities imposed a temporary ban on social media networks and messaging apps after a clash in another part of the country was traced to a dispute on Facebook.

"Mobs had attacked him with sharp weapons at his carpentry workshop", the official said.

He said police and security forces appeared to be overwhelmed and that by the time troops fired in the air to disperse the mobs it was too late. Netblocks confirms that Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are blocked on leading internet providers.

Mosques and Muslim-owned shops have been targeted but there were no reports of casualties.

Sri Lankan government has banned three Islamist extremist groups, including the National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ) that carried out the country's worst terror attack on Easter Sunday in which over 250 people were killed.

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