COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka on Monday declared a national curfew to manage the unfold of communal violence following a number of the worst mob assaults directed on the nation’s minority Muslim inhabitants for the reason that Islamic State claimed the lethal Easter Sunday bombings.
Within the weeks for the reason that bombings, which killed greater than 250 folks, tensions have remained excessive throughout the island nation. The federal government has intermittently blocked social media to keep away from the unfold of misinformation, and the police have declared curfews in some cities following smaller clashes.
However in an indication of rising concern that in a single day assaults on Muslim properties and mosques might develop uncontrolled, the federal government declared a nationwide curfew, from 9 p.m. to four a.m.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka stated assaults had been reported in at the very least 5 cities within the North Western province, which has historically been residence to each Sinhalese, who’re largely Buddhist, and Muslims.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, in a press release late on Monday, stated safety forces had moved in to manage the state of affairs in that province.
“These teams are attempting to create unrest in different areas now,” Mr. Wickremesinghe stated. “The intention of frightening violence at this second is to create difficulties for the armed forces and the police, to disrupt peaceable civilian life, and to make the nation unstable. Due to this fact the federal government has determined to declare curfew all through the nation.”
President Maithripala Sirisena, already going through mounting stress for his handing of the safety state of affairs, is on a visit overseas. Karu Jayasuriya, the speaker of Sri Lanka’s Parliament, appealed for calm.
The way forward for Sri Lanka “might be determined by the way in which folks behave within the subsequent few days,” Mr. Jayasuriya wrote on Twitter. “There isn’t a distinction between such racists attempting to set our nation on hearth and the suicide bombers who detonated themselves.”
Officers didn’t present particulars of casualties from the clashes so for. Agence France-Presse reported that at the very least one Muslim man was killed, slashed to loss of life by the mob at his carpentry store.
Sri Lankan leaders, of their attraction for calm, urged folks to keep away from a repeat of the 1983 riots, when mobs of Sinhalese, the ethnic majority, angered by assaults by the separatist Tamil Tigers, burned down 1000’s of Tamil retailers and homes, killing anyplace between 400 to three,000 folks. The violence of that week sunk the nation deeper right into a civil battle that lasted 26 years.
After a number of the preliminary assaults on Sunday afternoon, the federal government declared a curfew within the North Western province late Sunday night time. However the police struggled to comprise the mobs.
On Monday, some assaults had been reported near the capital, Colombo, with a mosque focused in Gampaha district, about 5 miles from the nation’s worldwide airport.
“The assaults are taking place regardless of the curfew in place,” stated M. N. Ameen, the president of the Muslim Council. “Individuals are so afraid that they’re fleeing their properties and hiding in paddy fields with babies.”
Early on Monday, the federal government banned some social media websites as experiences circulated that a number of the earliest assaults could have been motivated by a threatening Fb publish by a Muslim man.
Rauff Hakeem, a cupboard minister and the chief of the biggest Muslim occasion, stated the federal government “realized issues had been getting worse” after the assault close to the airport, and expanded the curfew to the entire island.
Mr. Hakeem stated the military had already moved into areas the place there have been experiences of unrest. He additionally stated one of many instigators of lethal communal violence in Kandy final yr, the place Muslim retailers and homes had been broken, is “serving to unfold the unrest” within the North Western province. That violence compelled the federal government to declare a nationwide state of emergency.
Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake, commander of the Sri Lankan Military, stated forces from the military, the air power and the navy had been deployed throughout the nation to assist the police restore order.
“I say once more: We are going to take stern motion to apprehend, arrest and even to fireside and use minimal or most powers given below emergency,” Common Senanayake stated in a press release
Violence was first reported within the city of Chilaw on Sunday afternoon, about 30 miles from Negombo, the place one of many worst Easter Sunday bomb assaults killed 102 folks at St. Sebastian’s church.
Within the village of Kiniyama, about 20 miles west of Chilaw, a mob of a whole bunch attacked three mosques on Sunday night time, mosque chief Moulavi Mohammed Siddque stated by telephone. The village of some 550 folks was gripped in concern as experiences of violence saved coming from surrounding areas, he stated.
“Immediately we’re scared they may come again to assault our homes,” he stated.