Sri Lanka curfew follows Catholic attack on Muslims

Sri Lankan police imposed a curfew from Sunday to dawn on Monday in a Catholic-majority town 80 kilometres north of Colombo after mobs attacked a mosque and Muslim-owned businesses there.

The situation blew up when a resident apparently misunderstood a Muslim man’s Facebook post as posing a threat to Christians.

The Muslim man has been arrested.

Meanwhile, armed soldiers searched the congregation for explosives and guarded Colombo’s St Theresa’s Church during its first mass since the deadly Easter bombings that targeted Catholics and luxury hotel visitors.

Armed military forces and police patrolled the streets leading to churches. Everyone entering was required to produce identity cards and was body searched.

In addition volunteers were stationed at the gates of churches to identify parishioners and look for suspicious individuals.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the Easter bombings which have been blamed on a local militant Islamic group.

Military forces and police have been given sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.

Religious tensions are high, with violence often spilling over. Last week for example, an argument between two men degenerated into religious violence leaving three people wounded.

Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka’s 21 million population. Christians represent about 7.6 percent of the population.


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