Monday, 27 May, 2019

Sri Lanka imposes curfew amid anti-Muslim violence

Sri Lanka bans social media services once again as tensions arise due to Facebook post Sri Lanka imposes curfew after mobs target mosques
Steven Clarke | 15 May, 2019, 19:06

A nationwide night curfew was relaxed in all areas except the North-Western Province (NWP) where a Muslim man was killed by a mob on Monday, police said, in a violent backlash against last month's bombings.

"Our people are still afraid to go out", he told AFP by telephone.

Many anxious Muslims were hunkering down at home, but young men, some of them carrying rods, were still zipping around on motorbikes, despite regional curfews from 2 p.m. before the countrywide curfew was imposed.

Military spokesman Atapattu said security forces were arresting small groups of suspected trouble-makers and handing them over to police.

"Police and security forces also did not do anything to put out the fire", Jifthy said.

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

Video footage of the unrest showed burning shops as mobs armed with sticks and stones roamed on the streets attacking Muslim-owned shops. 'Security forces are assisting police who have been ordered to use maximum force to contain the violence'.

Political commentator Victor Ivan suggested that the violence was politically orchestrated.

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The unrest was triggered on Sunday after a group of people stormed into Chilaw town following the Facebook post by a Muslim shopkeeper about "an attack plan". "There is evidence of junior level opposition figures instigating communal violence".

Tensions have been running high in Sri Lanka since the April 21 attacks by militant Islamic suicide bombers who struck two Catholic churches, one Protestant church and three luxury hotels.

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. "It is no heroism in attacking Muslims and damaging their property - true heroism is to control and overcome oneself", he said.

According to the the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) - the main body of Islamic clerics - there has been increased suspicion of Muslims after the attacks blamed on local Islamic group National Thowheed Jamath, which is believed to have links with the Islamic State (IS) that claimed the carnage.

Mr Wickremesinghe said he had given powers to the security forces to take strong action against those disturbing the peace.

Authorities also imposed a temporary ban on social-media networks and messaging apps including WhatsApp after a clash in another part of the country was traced to a dispute on Facebook.

Internet service providers said they have been instructed by the telecoms regulator to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram in a bid to prevent the spread of messages inciting violence.

Sri Lankan cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara was among those to call for calm, earlier tweeting: "STOP".

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