Fresh curfews, social media block in Sri Lanka after riots

The Police imposed curfew in the Chilaw area with immediate effect till 4am tomorrow after a social media post triggered violence

Later on Monday, authorities extended the curfew to more villages in Kurunegala district to restore order.

Sri Lanka blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms on Monday after anti-Muslim riots hit several towns in the latest fallout from the Easter Sunday suicide attacks.

A mosque official said the attacks were triggered when several people, including some Buddhist monks, demanded a search of the main building after soldiers had inspected a 105-acre (43-hectare) pond nearby.

They had first broken its parapet wall, entered the premises and had caused damages to the said office.Police and the Army dispersed the mobs involved.

Sri Lanka reimposed a ban on social media on Monday as religious tension flared up after an intimidating Facebook post triggered attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses in the worst unrest since Easter Sunday bombings which killed almost 260 people.

The suspect, a resident of Vavuniya, was arrested on Saturday morning by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) upon his arrival from Mecca after performing Hajj, The Daily Mirror reported.

Accordingly, police curfew will be in effect until 6 am tomorrow.

A member of the Sri Lankan security forces sits on a motorbike as he keeps watch outside St Anthony's Shrine, days after a string of suicide bomb attacks across the island on Easter Sunday, in Colombo, Sri Lanka April 28, 2019.

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Armed forces and police on Monday also increased security in the wake of reports that a terrorist group was planning to carry out attacks in several locations in the capital.

Hasmar had reportedly written, "1 day u will cry", which was interpreted as being a threat.

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.

Authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identifying him as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar. His shop was smashed and people vandalised a nearby mosque prompting security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd, but the violence spread.

Muslims make up almost 10% of Sri Lanka's 22 million people, who are predominantly Sinhalese Buddhists.

A week ago in Negombo, where more than 100 people were killed during Easter prayers, a violent clash erupted between local Muslims and Christians after a traffic dispute.

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.

Sri Lanka has used temporary bans on social media in an attempt to curb misinformation and rumors.

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