Published: Thu, May 16, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Sri Lanka imposes new curfew as mosques attacked

Sri Lanka imposes new curfew as mosques attacked

Police arrested a group of men for the attacks but people in the mostly Buddhist district then demanded their release, military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said.

Curfews have been in place in the districts in the country's north-west since Sunday when a group of men smashed up Muslim-owned shops and a mosque in a dispute with a local shopkeeper.

The violence is a new backlash from the Easter attacks where nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels, killing 253 people and injuring over 500 others.

"The Muslim community huddled in nearby paddy fields, that's how no one died", said one of a group of men gathered outside a white-and-green mosque with smashed windows and doors in the town of Kottampitiya. "They were from out of town", an owner of an electronic goods store told AFP by telephone.

Recalling their recent statements against violent extremism and hate speech, the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and the United Nations Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Karen Smith said they were "alarmed about the growing acts of violence on the basis of religion, including attacks against homes, places of worship and businesses, in the North Western Province of Sri Lanka". He said the security situation was under control and the perpetrators would be punished. "Mobs had attacked him with sharp weapons at his carpentry workshop", said an unidentified police official.

Young Sinhalese Buddhist men led riotous mobs through northwest Sri Lanka from Sunday through Monday evening.

Police imposed a countrywide curfew until from 9 p.m.to 4 a.m., spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M.I.M. Siddeeque said the community was anxious.

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Despite the extraordinary security measures, the minorities felt insecure, said Dissanayake, who is also a government minister. "Security forces are working tirelessly to apprehend terrorists and ensure the security of the country".

"We call upon the members of the Muslim communities to be more patient and guard your actions and avoid unnecessary postings or hosting on social media", the ACJU said.

But the police have made several changes in the command structure by removing senior officers in the troubled areas after allegations officials did nothing to stop the rioters.

Parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya condemned the violence and appealed for calm.

The attacks came during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramazan.

Internet service providers said they have been instructed by the telecommunications regulator to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram.

"Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country", Nalaka Kaluwewa, the director general of the Department of Government Information said.

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