Alwaght- Buddhist mobs have attacked Sri Lanka’s Muslims overnight, burning and destroying mosques and businesses belonging to the minority community, police said on Wednesday.
Police imposed an indefinite curfew in the central highlands district of Kandy where the violence has been centered since Sunday night following the death of a Buddhist youth in an altercation with a group of Muslims, Reuters reported.
But police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said there had been “several incidents” throughout Tuesday night in the Kandy area, popular with tourists for its tea gardens.
“The police arrested seven people. Three police officers were injured from the incidents,” Gunasekara told Reuters. There was no information about how many civilians had been injured in the attacks, he said.
Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of urging people to convert to Islam.
Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of displaced Muslim Rohingya refugees from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist extremist has also been committing ethnic cleansing against the minority community since August 2017.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar for Bangladesh following a military crackdown backed by extremists Buddhists that the United Nations has said amounted to ethnic cleansing, with reports of arson attacks, murder and rape. According to reports, over 6,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed since the start of the current crisis.
Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena imposed a state of emergency for seven days on Tuesday, aiming to stop the violence from spreading to other parts of the country still healing from a 26-year civil war against Tamil separatists that ended in 2009.
A government minister said the latest violence in Kandy had been whipped up by people from outside the area. “There is an organized conspiracy behind these incidents,” Sarath Amunugama, a senior minister told reporters in Colombo.
He said the government will implement the rule of law impartially in the overwhelmingly Buddhist nation in which Muslims make up 9 percent of the 21 million population, the smallest minority after ethnic Tamils, most of whom are Hindus.
Police ordered Dialog Axiata, the country’s largest mobile phone service provider, to restrain internet connections in the Kandy district after postings appeared on Facebook threatening attacks on Muslims.