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May 15, 2019

Lankan anti-Muslim riots claim one life


May 15, 2019

MINUWANGODA, Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka announced Tuesday a curfew for a second straight night after a man was killed by sword-wielding rioters in an escalating anti-Muslim backlash following the Easter terror attacks.

Violence broke out late Monday, three weeks after extremist bombings killed 258 people, with rampaging mobs carrying out arson attacks and 2,000 people vandalising a mosque, witnesses said.

Police announced another nationwide curfew for a second night to try and stop the violence, beginning at 9:00 pm (15:30 GMT).

The curfew had been in place all day in North-Western Province (NWP), where police said a 45-year-old Muslim man was slaughtered in his carpentry shop late Monday by a crowd carrying swords.

Fauzul Ameen was buried Tuesday at a Muslim cemetery in Nattandiya under tight security. Heavily armed troops and police backed by armoured personnel carriers guarded a service attended by around 100 people.

Police said Tuesday that just over 80 people had been arrested including Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka´s majority Buddhist Sinhalese community on bail for his role in similar riots in March last year.

The suspects were being held under emergency laws and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under which convicts could be jailed up to 10 years. Elsewhere in NWP, north of Colombo, attackers outnumbering police and security forces set fire to Muslim-owned shops, vandalised homes and smashed windows, furniture and fittings inside several mosques.

In the adjoining Gampaha district, men on motorbikes led arson attacks in the town of Minuwangoda, 45 kilometres north of Colombo, local residents told AFP. "They were from out of town," an owner of an electronic goods store told AFP by telephone. "After they started smashing Muslim shops and throwing petrol bombs, the locals joined in."

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