Sri Lanka accused of failing to prevent attacks on Muslims

Cheryl Sanders
May 15, 2019

Sri Lanka has imposed a night-time curfew across the country amid an upsurge in anti-Muslim violence.

"When we try to come out of our house, police tell us to stay inside".

In an address to the nation on Monday night, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the military has been asked to quell the anti-Muslim riot and urged public cooperation to the security forces to bring the situation under control.

Authorities had earlier in the day reimposed curfew in several towns of the still shaken Buddhist-majority country and temporarily blocked social media websites after a Facebook post sparked the anti-Muslim riots.

"It is alarming to see reports that those suspected to be involved in the March 2018 anti-Muslim violence may have been involved in these recent attacks as well", she said.

Curfews have been in place in the districts in the country's north-west since Sunday when a group of men smashed up Muslim-owned shops and a mosque in a dispute with a local shopkeeper.

Another mob that grew from 200 to approximately 1,000 people rode through the town of Kottampitiya on motorcycles Monday afternoon, wielding swords and staves according to locals.

Homes and mosques were also vandalised by large groups of people armed with sticks and blunt weapons, police said.

Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's population and Christians about 7.6 per cent.

Rioting there, north of the capital Colombo, saw police fire bullets into the air to disperse mobs marauding through several towns.

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

"They destroyed and burned Korans, broke every glass window and door and urinated on the water storage which Muslims used to take ablution", he said.

Police spokesman Mr Gunasekera did not respond to a request for comment on the incident, but in an emailed statement to Reuters he said there had been some damage to property in the Hettipola area of Kurunegala district.

Meanwhile, President Sirisena and Chinese President Xi Jinping had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to obtain the services of security personnel in both countries.

Sri Lankan Catholics pray during mass which resumed after the Easter Sunday attacks, at the "All Saints" Church in Colombo.

Other reports by iNewsToday