Sri Lankan town under curfew after anti-Muslim attacks | 2019-05-13 | daily-sun.com

Sri Lankan town under curfew after anti-Muslim attacks

12th May, 2019 10:09:02 printer

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan troops in a northern town fired shots into the air and police imposed a curfew Sunday after mobs attacked a mosque, in renewed religion tensions in the wake of the Easter terror attacks, reports AFP.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said that the mobs in Chilaw, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the capital Colombo, also attacked Muslim-owned businesses.

The violence erupted in Chilaw, a Catholic-majority town, after a resident misunderstood a Facebook post as a threat against Christians.

Gunasekera said the Muslim man who posted the comment has been arrested. He said the curfew would be lifted at dawn on Monday.

The latest unrest came as Catholic churches resumed their public Sunday masses for the first time after the April 21 bombings at three churches and three luxury hotels left 258 people dead.

The attacks were blamed on a local group which had pledged an oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State group.

Last week, there were similar tensions at a town between Colombo and Chilaw where an argument between two men degenerated into religious violence leaving three people wounded.

Official sources said the curfew was imposed in Chilaw to prevent the unrest spreading to other areas.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the suicide bombings. Security forces and police have been given sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.

Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka’s 21 million population and Christians about 7.6 percent.

Meanwhile, thousands of Catholics attended mass in Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo Sunday amid tight security to prevent a repeat of Easter bomb attacks that killed 258 people.

Soldiers armed with automatic assault rifles guarded St. Theresa’s church at Colombo’s Thimbirigasyaya residential quarter, while members of the congregation were searched for explosives.

The sprawling church car park was empty as the authorities did not allow any vehicles into the compound as part of high-level security.

The government has blamed local jihadists for the deadly April 21 bombings, which targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels.

Regular services were cancelled across all churches soon after the deadly suicide attacks, but the archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith announced Thursday that mass would be held in his diocese from Sunday.

 

 


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