A curfew was imposed today in the southern coastal town of Aluthgama and Beruwela to defuse a possible ethnic flare up after clashes between Muslims and Buddhists left several people wounded. “An indefinite curfew will be in force at Aluthgama,” police said.
At least 40 people were injured and shops damaged in clashes that started at a protest march led by hardline Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).The BBS said its members had been protesting peacefully, against an assault on a Buddhist monk by a Muslim youth three days ago, when they came under attack.
A police spokesman appealed to the people to remain calm and not to disrupt the peace in the country.
The curfew was imposed following tensions which prevailed in the area after a Buddhist majority nationalist group staged a march in a Muslim-dominated area which they claimed had been stoned.
Many activists from both sides as well as bystanders were injured during the evening clashes.
The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds but failed to prevent the clashes until the Special Task Force (STF) arrived at the scene and used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The roots of the incident go back to last Thursday when a Buddhist monk alleged he had been beaten up in the nearby Beruwala town after a traffic incident.