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

Curfew in Sri Lanka after attack on mosques Facebook Whats App blocked to curb violence

Police in Sri Lanka arrested 23 people Tuesday in connection with a series of mob attacks against Muslim homes and businesses in retaliation for the Easter church bombings.

In recent years, Buddhist hardliners, led by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or "Buddhist Power Force" have stoked hostility against Islam, saying Middle Eastern influence has turned Sri Lankan Muslims more conservative and isolated. "This is the first death from the riots".

Nalaka Kaluwewa, the chief of the Information Department said the ban on social media was intended "to prevent misinformation from being circulated and also to prevent spreading of information that would harm communal harmony".

Tensions have been running high in the Buddhist-majority Indian Ocean island nation since the April 21 attacks by seven suicide bombers who struck two Catholic and one Protestant church and three luxury hotels.

"All police officers have been instructed to take stern action against the violators, even to use the maximum force".

The UN Special Advisers in a joint statement urged the Government, the opposition, civil society and the security sector, to work collaboratively to immediately stop hateful attacks against religious minorities in Sri Lanka.

But Muslims in North-West Province remained nervous and stayed indoors Wednesday, after sword-wielding rioters killed one man late Monday while vandalising scores of shops and mosques. "It is no heroism in attacking Muslims and damaging their property - true heroism is to control and overcome oneself", Ranjith said.

Police imposed a countrywide curfew until from 9 p.m.to 4 a.m., spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. In the town of Hettipola, at least three shops were torched. "When mobs tried to attack mosques, we fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse them. There are people trying to make political capital out of this situation".

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This is third time in a month that the Sri Lanka government has banned social media services, all to control the spread of misinformation and rumors online.

Platforms were similarly blocked after the Easter attacks.

The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter Sunday attacks. Netblocks confirms that Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are blocked on leading internet providers.

Authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, whose online comment "1 day u will cry" people said was interpreted as threatening violence.

The witness said the crowd then surged into the mosque and ransacked it.

There had already been clashes last week between Christians and Muslims in Negombo, the town north of Colombo that was targeted by the suicide attackers.

In this Sunday, May 12, 2019, photo, Sri Lankan soldiers stand guard at the entrance to Good Shepherd convent and the St. Benedict's college in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

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