Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew as riots erupt weeks after Easter bombings

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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.

"The government on Friday ordered mosques to clamp down on extremists and to submit copies of sermons in new fallout from the Easter suicide bombings that left 258 dead", the Sri Lankan outlet Ada Derana reported".

Authorities said they arrested the author of the Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, whose online comment "one day you will cry" was interpreted as threatening violence.

The murder of over 250 people by suicide bombers at three churches and three luxury hotels was claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. A second ban was imposed on May 5th after ethnic tensions erupted in Negombo, one of the cities targeted in the bombings.

Army chief Mahesh Senanayake said the troops have been instructed to deal very strictly with those who defy the curfew.

Wickremesinghe said the unrest would hinder investigations into the April 21 attacks that targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels, killing 258 people and wounding almost 500.

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"The curfew imposed in Kuliyapitya and Chilaw has been lifted", police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. Top security officials also said they believe Hashim and some other suspects travelled to Bengaluru, Kashmir and parts of Kerala in late 2018. Sunday services had been cancelled the two previous weekends for fear of more attacks, leaving the faithful to hear Mass via live TV transmission from the residence of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo.

Rights group Amnesty International said there was "a worrying trend of attacks against the Muslim community coming out of Sri Lanka" following the Easter Sunday bombings.

The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter Sunday attacks.

On Twitter, Sri Lanka's leading mobile phone operator, Dialog Axiata Plc, said it had also received instructions to block the apps Viber, IMO, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube until further notice.

Public schools completed their reopening from extended Easter holidays after the attacks, but attendance was extremely low, according to education authorities.

Muslims make up around 10 per cent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's 21 million-strong population and Christians about 7.6 per cent.

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