Sri Lankan police ask who promoted violence against Muslims

Reuters

According to media reports, around 80 tourists have cancelled their bookings made at one of the top three travel companies in Sri Lanka, which could possibly amount to a loss of 800 nights.

A daytime curfew within Kandy city's limits was relaxed Thursday morning in a sign of improving conditions, only to be re-imposed in the afternoon as communal violence claimed a third life within a week.

Police officials said that tight security would remain in place throughout the district to ensure that there was no relapse into violence amid concerns among Muslims about possibility of attacks during Friday prayers.

Police announced 85 people had been arrested for rioting in the hill district, including the leader of a radical Sinhalese Buddhist group known for agitating against Muslims.

In Kuruvita, 125 kilometres south of Kandy, police said petrol bombs were lobbed at a mosque.

Internet services, which were blocked across Kandy, were restored on Friday, but access to social media sites, such as Facebook, remained blocked across Sri Lanka.

More news: Dana to merge with GKN's Driveline business

Amid severe criticism against police inaction, the law and order portfolio temporarily held by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was handed to a senior politician. The provocation for the current round of violence was the death of a Sinhalese-Buddhist youth allegedly at the hands of a group of Muslim men in an incident of road rage.

Police said as no major incidents of violence have been reported from the troubled areas since yesterday, so the curfew has been lifted from Kandy town. "Disciplinary action will be taken against him", the Army chief said. The conflict escalated when a Muslim man was found dead in a burnt building on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community accounts for about three quarters of the 21 million population. Following the end of the civil war in 2009, Muslims emerged as the targets of hardline Sinhala resentment, replacing the predominantly Hindu Tamils.

Mobs also set fire to Muslim-owned businesses and attacked a mosque in the east of the country last week.

Some Buddhist nationalists have protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

In June 2014 riots between Buddhists, led by radical monks, and Muslims left four dead.

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