Sri Lanka on Tuesday deployed its army as clashes between Buddhists and minority Muslims spread to newer areas overnight in a popular tourist region where a curfew failed to douse the flare-up that has killed at least four people and destroyed a number of homes and businesses.
Officials said the Sri Lankan army was called in as tensions in Aluthgama and Beruwala areas in the country’s southwestern region escalated last night. The decision followed a request made by the police.
The affected areas, often frequented by international tourists, are about 60 kilometres south of the capital Colombo. However, no tourist have reported to be caught in the middle of the violence.
Local residents claim that a poultry farm caretaker was hacked to death by a mob in th fresh round of arson, taking the toll in the two-day ethnic violence to four. Another 80 people have been wounded in the riots.
Local residents said there were reports of clashes spreading to Welipenna, a suburb of Alutgama previously untouched by the flare up, last night. They have alleged that the police have done little to quell the clashes — a charge rejected by the police.
The residents said houses and shops were destroyed overnight by a mob of over 50 armed men. The unrest spread despite a curfew and deployment of of approximately 1,200 police personnel in the area. Police said they arrested eight persons in connection with the rampage but later released them.
The attacks are the latest in a series of religious clashes to hit the island following unrest in January and also last year when Buddhist mobs attacked a mosque in the capital Colombo.
On Sunday night communal clashes broke out between the nationalist BBS or the Forces of Buddhist Power and the minority Muslims, who constitute about 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million population, during a rally.
The rally was organized by majority nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) in Muslim-dominated areas of Beruwala, Dharga Town and Aluthgama on the Sinhala-dominated south-western coast in protest against a road rage incident. (Times of India)