Easter Sunday Bombings: Man hacked to death in Sri Lanka communal riots


Sri Lanka's police reimposed night curfews in vulnerable areas on Wednesday and arrested over 100 people in connection with the communal riots which targeted Muslim-owned businesses in the aftermath of the deadly Easter Sunday bombings.

Police said yesterday that 23 people had been arrested, including Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese community, who had been out on bail for his role in similar riots in March a year ago.

Three weeks after Sri Lanka witnessed multiple suicide bombings, that killed over 260 people, the nation imposed a curfew following the rise of anti-Muslim riots where a Muslim man was killed while a dozen mosques and shops were decimated.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today condemned a series of the acts of violence directed against the Muslim community in the aftermath of the Easter attacks on 21 April in Sri Lanka directed at churches and other places.

The attacks come during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

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

"The situation is now totally under control", said military spokesman Sumith Atapattu.

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The latest wave of unrest started when a mob targeted Muslim-owned shops in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres north of Colombo, on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper. The refugees and asylum seekers were evicted from their rented homes following pressure on local landlords; the UN's refugee agency, UNHCR, says more than 1,060 people have been sheltering in mosques or crammed into police stations and community spaces mainly in parts of Colombo and nearby Negombo. Gunasekera, however, argued otherwise, saying that police had been instructed to use as much force as necessary to stop the attackers and that those judged guilty of rioting could face 10 years in jail.

Officials have blocked some social media platforms and messaging apps, including Facebook and Whatsapp, in an attempt to curb outbreaks of unrest.

In the adjoining district of Gampaha, mobs smashed Muslim-owned restaurants and at least one garment factory, official sources and residents said. Sri Lanka's tough new emergency laws imposed after the attacks indicate that he could remain in custody indefinitely.

Al Jazeera reported that glass was strewn across the Abrar mosque in the town of Kiniyama that was attacked overnight. "If not adequately dealt with, the recent violence has the potential to escalate even further", the advisers said in a statement.

Others blamed the police for failing to disperse the crowd.

Sri Lanka has had a history of ethnic and religious violence and was torn for decades by a civil war between separatists from the mostly Hindu Tamil minority and the Sinhala Buddhist-dominated government.