Buddhist mob attack Sri Lankan Muslims despite state of emergency

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Buddhist mob attacked mosques and businesses belonging to Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims overnight, despite the imposition of a state of emergency to restore peace in the bitterly divided island, police said on Wednesday.

Police imposed an indefinite curfew in the central highlands district of Kandy where the violence has been centred since Sunday night following the death of a Buddhist youth in an altercation with a group of Muslims.

But police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there had been ‘several incidents’ throughout Tuesday night in the Kandy area, popular with tourists for its tea gardens.

“The police arrested seven people. Three police officers were injured from the incidents,” Gunasekara said.

News agency Reuters reported quoting the spokesman that there was no information about how many civilians had been injured in the attacks.

Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hard-line Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.

Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

President Maithripala Sirisena imposed a state of emergency for seven days on Tuesday, aiming to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country still healing from a 26-year civil war against Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.

Police ordered Dialog Axiata, the country’s largest mobile phone service provider, to restrain internet connections in the Kandy district after postings appeared on Facebook threatening attacks on Muslims.