Published:  01:02 AM, 16 May 2019

SL situation 'under control' after anti-Muslim riots

SL situation 'under control' after anti-Muslim riots Sri Lankan soldiers secured the area around St. Anthony's Shrine in Colombo after a blast on Sunday. -AP

Sri Lankan authorities said Wednesday (May 15) they had the situation "under control" after mosques and Muslim-owned shops and businesses were targeted in a violent backlash after the Easter Sunday terror attacks.

A second overnight curfew imposed nationwide ensured there was no repeat of Monday's violence against the Muslim minority, who make up some 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's population of 21 million. Many Muslims have been bracing for revenge attacks since three churches and three luxury hotels were bombed by local Islamist extremists on Apr 21, killing 258 people. "The situation is now totally under control," said Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu.

"There were no incidents of violence overnight and we are arresting groups of people responsible for taking part in mob attacks." Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesman, said that more than 80 people were in custody as of Tuesday evening. 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.

In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M. I. M. Siddeeque said the community was worried. "Our people are still afraid to go out," he told AFP by telephone. Military spokesman Atapattu said security forces were arresting small groups of suspected trouble-makers and handing them over to police.

They were being held under emergency laws under which convicts can be jailed up to 10 years, police spokesman Gunasekera said. Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese
community.

-AFP, Colombo

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