Fresh violence erupts in Lanka as Muslim-owned restaurant comes under attack
Colombo, Mar 11 : Fresh violence erupted in Sri Lanka after a Muslim-owned restaurant was attacked in an alleged hate crime incident in the north western province today, a day after President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a commission to probe a spate of anti-Muslim riots in the violence-hit Kandy district that prompted him to impose a nationwide state of emergency.
The restaurant located in Puttalam district’s Anamaduwa city,130 kilometres from Colombo, was targeted early morning even as police are keeping a tight vigil following eruption of communal clashes on Monday that have left two persons dead and damaged several homes, businesses and mosques in the scenic Kandy district.
“Anamaduwe Muslim restaurant was attacked at 4 am (local time) this morning,” the Colombo Telegraph reported.
Tensions remain high across Sri Lanka after the violence broke out following the death of a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority last week.
President Sirisena appointed a three-member commission yesterday to probe the communal clashes in Kandy.
He had declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday and deployed the police and military to prevent escalation of violence after clashes between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims erupted in other areas of central Sri Lanka’s riot-hit Kandy district.
Muslims make up 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total 21 million population. Sinhalese are a largely Buddhist ethnic group.
A total of 146 suspects have been arrested in Kandy – 135 over violence and 11 for violating the curfew – since March 4, a media report said yesterday.
Meanwhile, Kandy’s central province Chief Minister Sarath Ekanayake said today that all government schools which were closed on March 7 due to the unrest will reopen tomorrow.
The announcement came after police spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said yesterday that curfew will not be imposed in Kandy as situation has been peaceful.
Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka today summoned the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission over the temporary ban imposed on social media including Facebook throughout the island nation last week.
The police had claimed that anti-Muslim rioters were using social media to spread anti-Muslim hatred.
Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said although it was considered a human rights violation, the government had taken the decision in order to curb the spread of false and malicious news and to stop the situation from going out of control.
“The state security was important than anything else and we are glad the situation is now returning to normal,” Jayasekara was quoted as saying by the Colombo Gazette.
Tensions between Muslim groups and the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community in the country have escalated since the end of the civil war in May 2009.
In 2014, violence directed against Muslim minority groups broke out in the southwestern town of Aluthgama, following a rally by hardline Buddhist nationalist monks, resulting in the death of at least three Muslims.