Published: Wed, May 15, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Sri Lanka imposes new curfew as mosques attacked

Sri Lanka imposes new curfew as mosques attacked

The recent violence is a fresh 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 258 people and injuring over 500 others.

The 45-year-old man died shortly after admission to a hospital in Puttalam district during anti-Muslim rioting, which began Sunday in the area, a police official told AFP. "Security forces are assisting police who have been ordered to use maximum force to contain the violence".

Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was beaten in the Christian-majority town of Chilaw on the west coast on Sunday in the dispute that started on Facebook, police sources and residents told Reuters.

An islandwide curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka on Monday following violent anti-Muslim clashes which erupted in the northwestern province and the Gampaha district, in the outskirts of capital Colombo.

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

The prime minister urged the public not to believe rumours and warned that civil unrest will stretch the already thinly deployed security forces.

In this Sunday, May 12, 2019, photo, Sri Lankan soldiers watch as a group of Muslim students walk past a closed catholic convent in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Muslims huddled in the mosque for safety and requested that police fire their guns in the air to disperse the mob, but police refused, saying that the mob wanted to inspect the mosque for weapons.

The government says that security forces have restored calm to streets in the areas affected by violence and insist officers are preventing revenge attacks on Muslims.

The Islamic State terror group claimed the attacks, but the government blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ).

Then the crowd surged into the mosque and ransacked it, the witness said.

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

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