Sri Lanka imposes islandwide curfew following anti Muslim clashes

Lester Mason
May 15, 2019

Police fired tear gas at anti-Muslim mobs that were attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops in a backlash against the community after the deadly bombings, and the authorities imposed a nationwide curfew.

The latest wave of unrest started when a mob targeted Muslim-owned shops in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Colombo on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper.

The island nation has ramped up security as fears grow that minority Muslims among its population of 22 million could face sectarian violence after bombers blew themselves up in four hotels and three churches, killing more than 250 people.

Visiting Kuliyapitiya - a town where rioting happened - Mr Wickremesinghe said he would not allow the lives of innocent people to be disrupted. Militant Buddhist groups have cultivated anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka for years, sparking fears soon after the Easter bombings that such groups would use the attacks as justification to incite violence against Sri Lankan Muslims.

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.

How has the government responded?

"What we want to say is that the government is very determined to control this and from tonight onwards it shall be completely controlled", Shiral Lakthilaka, an adviser to the president, told the BBC.

Leaders from across the political spectrum have been pleading for calm and urging people not to share rumours via social media.

Earlier Monday, authorities banned Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms.

"We can see many places where the curfew has been announced". "The police will take stringent action against the rioters".

What happened on Easter Sunday? .

"To all people of religion, and citizens of this country, please ensure that you do not do anything that is against unity and peace among people in this country". Wickremesinghe said the violence by a handful of people only hampered the ongoing investigations into suicide bomb attacks by local Islamic extremist group National Thowheeth Jama'ath (NTJ).

"The country is trying to move forward from a traumatic period of inter-ethnic armed conflict, but these attacks are pushing Sri Lanka backwards".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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