Muslim men stand in front of the Abbraar Masjid mosque after the mob attack in Kiniyama, Sri Lanka May 13, 2019. REUTERS / Dinuka Liyanawatte

Clashes in Sri Lankan mosques leave 1 dead

One person was killed in Sri Lanka on Monday as police threw tear gas at crowds attacking Muslim-owned mosques and shops and imposed a curfew after the worst outbreak of sectarian violence since attacks by Islamist militants on Sunday. Easter.

The April 21 attacks claimed by the Islamic State targeted churches and hotels, mainly in Colombo, killing more than 250 people and fueling fears of a backlash against the Muslim nation's island minority.

A police officer at Marawila hospital said a 42 man hospitalized for stab wounds had died. One resident of the area who helped transport the victim to hospital identified him as Mohamed Ameer Mohamed Sally.

Residents of Muslim regions in the northwestern province said crowds attacked mosques and damaged Muslim-owned stores and businesses for the second day in a row.

"There are hundreds of troublemakers, the police and the army are just watching. They burned our mosques and destroyed many Muslim-owned shops, "a Kottampitiya area resident told Reuters by telephone, urging him not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

"When we try to leave our house, the police tell us to stay inside."

Police imposed a curfew across the country from 9 at night. at 4 in the morning, spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a statement that acts of sabotage were impeding an investigation by the security forces and warned that "if racism rises ... and peace is disturbed, the country will be destabilized."

"The intent of these groups that are causing violence is to cause disruption in public life and destabilize the country," he said.

Wickremesinghe said he has empowered the security forces to take firm action against those who disturb peace.

Authorities also imposed a temporary ban on social media networks and messaging applications, including WhatsApp, after a clash in another part of the country was linked to a Facebook dispute.

A police source said police used tear gas to disperse crowds in parts of North West province.

Muslims make up almost 10% of the 22 million Sri Lankans who are predominantly Sri Lankan Buddhists.

A Reuters reporter saw a crowd of dozens of Sinhalese youths clutching sticks and clubs at what appeared to be a standoff in the town of Madulla in the North West province.

Many anxious Muslims were hiding at home, but the young men, some of them carrying sticks, were still riding motorbikes on motorcycles, despite the regional curfew of two in the afternoon. before the curfew in the whole country was imposed.

The glass was spread by the Abrar mosque in the town of Kiniyama, which was attacked during the night. All the windows and doors of the pink building were broken and copies of the Koran were thrown on the floor.

A mosque official said the attacks were triggered when several people, including some Buddhist monks, demanded a search in the main building after soldiers inspected a nearby 43 lake.

Authorities suspect lakes and pits are being used as hiding places to hide weapons.

A 34 man who was in the mosque said that about 150-200 people came to the mosque with sticks and swords on Sunday, but the Muslims who were in the mosque persuaded them to leave with the help of the police.

But they came back and this time there were about 1.300 people. Muslims, huddled in the mosque, asked the police to shoot in the air to disperse the crowd, but police said the people wanted to inspect the mosque for weapons.

Then the crowd invaded the mosque and searched it, said the witness.

Source: Reuters

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