Colombo, MINA – Sri Lankan government announced on Monday a “curfew” nationwide, after anti-Muslim riots spread over parts of country, three weeks after several suicide bombers claimed by ISIS that killed more 250 people and injured hundreds.
“Curfew will remain until 4 a.m. on Tuesday,” said police spokesman S.P Ruwan Gunasekara, Munsif Dailymel reported quoted by MINA.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged residents to remain calm and not be provoked by rumors after the violence, especially affecting Kurunegala district, an area where Muslims were targeted, Colombo Gazett reported.
Kurunegala is located about 100 km from Colombo and Muslims are the second largest ethnic group there after Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhists.
Prime Minister said security forces worked tirelessly to arrest terrorists and ensure state security, but whenever there were civil unrest, they would add to their burdens and hamper ongoing investigations.
The comments came after several shops owned by Muslims and other properties were damaged or destroyed by mobs in Kurunegala district on Monday.
Authorities previously imposed a curfew in several cities in a Buddhist-majority country that was still shaken and temporarily blocked social media sites after a upload on Facebook triggered anti-Muslim riots.
Sri Lanka has been on the brink since April 21 tragedy, when suicide bombers detonated themselves in three churches, three luxury hotels and two other places. Most of targets were in Colombo.
The tragedy is the worst that hit Sri Lanka since the end of civil war a decade ago.
Riots were triggered on Sunday after a group of people stormed into the town of Chilaw after uploading on Facebook by a Muslim shopkeeper about “planned attacks”.
Reports say some people threw stones at mosques and attacked Muslim shops. A man, allegedly Muslim, was also beaten.
Amid the riots, Army fired up to air to disperse the crowd, but riots spread to other cities, Daily Mirr reported.
On the same day, curfews were imposed in Chilaw and Kuliyapitiya, Bingiriya, Hettipola and Dummalasuriya regions and social media restrictions were imposed to prevent circulation of false news and incitement to violence.
The curfew was then extended to Rasnayakapura and Kobeigane areas in Kurunegala district and authorities warned that “crackdowns will be taken against anyone who disturbs peace”.
The latest riots began when Catholic churches began mass Sunday for the first time since Easter bombing. (T/Sj/P2)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)