Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims kill 3 in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa says violence will be investigated
Eyewitnesses said mobs pelted a mosque with stones and set fire to Muslim-owned shops
By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AA) – Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa criticized the clashes that took place between Buddhist hardliners and Muslims in southern town Aluthgama on Sunday.
Police used tear gas to end the violence, which followed a rally by Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena addressed by the group's Secretary-General Galagodaththe Gnanasara. Members of the group marched through predominantly Muslim areas and clashes erupted, with Muslim-owned shops and businesses attacked.
"The Government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands. I urge all parties concerned to act in restraint. An investigation will be held for law to take its course of action to bring to book those responsible for incidents in Aluthgama," said Rajapaksa, in a series of posts on social media website Twitter. "I ask my Sinhala & Muslim brothers & sisters in Aluthgama to stand together."
Some Muslims sustained minor injuries in the clashes, including two television journalists covering the events. Police and Special Task Force personnel have been deployed to restore law and order.
"Police curfew has been imposed with immediate effect in Aluthgama Police area, after tense situation in order to prevent further clashes," Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana told Anadolu Agency. "Police curfew is imposed in Beruwala Police area as well. People are requested to be calm."
Eyewitnesses say that Buddhist hardliners pelted stones at the Mosque in Dharga town and mobs set fire to several shops owned by Muslims.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka welcomed the police curfew and urged Muslims to remain calm and not to be provoked into retaliating.
Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion Faizer Mustafa, who has just returned from a trip to Japan, is currently on his way to the Aluthgama to assess the situation.
Bodu Bala Sena, which literally translates to Buddhist Power Force, is a right-wing Buddhist group that was established after the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war in 2009. They belong to the country's Sinhalese Buddhist majority and have been accused of inciting hate against other religions in Sri Lanka.
Courtesy: Anadolu Agency ~ www.aa.com.tr/en