Sri Lanka blocks social media and imposes curfew after anti-Muslim attacks

Sri Lanka blocks social media and imposes curfew after anti-Muslim attacks

"When Muslims tried to prevent the attack, we were asked by police to go inside", the official said.

A Muslim man was stabbed to death during the recent spate of violence.

He said police and security forces appeared to be overwhelmed and that by the time troops fired in the air to disperse the mobs it was too late for numerous shops targeted.

Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka´s majority Buddhist Sinhalese community and on bail for his role in similar riots in March previous year in the central Kandy district.

The Lankan government also reimposed a ban on social media after the clashes.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe denounced the rioters and urged the public to dismiss the rumors.

Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in a sign of the heightened tensions since jihadist suicide bombers attacked three hotels and three churches on April 21 killing 258 people.

They said there were sporadic incidents of mobs throwing stones and torching motorcycles and cars owned by Muslims.

A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects.

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

Sri Lanka has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority.

Glass was strewn across the Abrar mosque in the town of Kiniyama that was attacked overnight. Homes and mosques were also vandalised by large groups of people armed with sticks and weapons.

The witness said the crowd then surged into the mosque and ransacked it.

"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. But in an e-mailed statement, he said there had been some damage to property in Hettipola area of Kurunegala district but no injuries reported.

The latest wave of unrest started when a mob targeted Muslim-owned shops in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Colombo on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper.

Tuesday marks the second day of the revenge attacks. "Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country", Nalaka Kaluwewa, the director general of the Department of Government Information said.

- NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 13, 2019As per the directive issued by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, IMO, Snapchat, Instagram & YouTube would be restricted with immediate effect until further notice.

Sri Lankan software engineer Aadhil Ameez, a 24-year-old, has been tied to both the National Tawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and the Jamathei Millathu Ibrahim (JMI) who perpetrated the attacks which killed over 250 people and injured hundreds more.

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