Sri Lanka Anti-Muslim Mob Violence: Curfew Extended After Riots, Over 60 People Arrested
Picture shows a house damaged during the violent clashes in North Western Province, Sri Lanka (Photo Credits: IANS)

Colombo, May 15: The Sri Lanka government has extended a nationwide curfew after a spate of mob attacks on Muslims in the wake of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings that left over 250 people dead. The Sri Lankan police arrested over 60 people, including the leader of a far-right Buddhist group, in connection with violence against the Muslim community. A Muslim man was hacked to death on Monday during riots.

Dozens of Muslim-owned shops and mosques were vandalised and set on fire allegedly by members of the largely Buddhist majority ethnic Sinhalese. Riots continued throughout Monday in Colombo and surrounding areas in the country's west and north-west after which the Sri Lankan government imposed a nationwide curfew and blocked social media apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Sri Lankan Blast: Government Blames Muslim Group for Easter Bombings that Killed 290.

A Muslim man was stabbed to death while rioters torched Muslim-owned shops and vandalized mosques during Monday's attacks. The curfew was extended on Tuesday as violence in some parts of the country continued. Soldiers in armoured vehicles are patrolling the towns hit by communal violence even as the police claimed that the situation had been brought under control. Sangakkara Urges Sri Lankans to Maintain Peace After Communal Riots.

The UN's Colombo office urged Sri Lankan authorities to "ensure that the situation does not escalate". It stressed the importance of holding the perpetrators and inciters of violence to account at this "critical juncture" if peace is to be maintained. In a televised address, Sri Lanka Police chief Chandana Wickramaratne warned that officers would respond to rioters with "maximum force".

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited riot-hit Kuliyapitiya town and appealed for calm. Wickremesinghe said he would not allow the lives of innocent people to be disrupted. Tensions have been high since Islamist militants attacked three churches, three hotels and two other locations on April 21, killing over 250 people and injuring hundreds.