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Nation wide curfew imposed as communal violence hits Sri-Lanka

Nation wide curfew imposed as communal violence hits Sri-Lanka

Sri Lanka banned the NTJ and arrested over 100 people in connection with the blasts.

Muslims make up almost 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's population of 22 million, which is predominantly Buddhist.

She also said that the attacks did not emerge out of a vacuum and that there were clear signs that a backlash against Muslims was underway and the authorities could have acted on reports of threats earlier, potentially preventing much of the violence over recent days.

Residents in Muslim parts of North Western Province said mobs had attacked mosques and damaged shops and businesses owned by Muslims for a second day.

"These are organised attacks on Muslim business houses and premises", Navin Dissanayake, minister of plantation industries, said during a government news conference on Wednesday about the security situation.

Police said the curfew in the NWP would continue until further notice.

Sri Lanka has had a history of ethnic and religious violence and was torn for decades by a civil war between separatists from the mostly Hindu Tamil minority and the Sinhala Buddhist-dominated government.

In the adjoining district of Gampaha, mobs smashed Muslim-owned restaurants and at least one garment factory, official sources and residents said. Dozens of people have been detained since the Easter Sunday attacks. One man was stabbed to death with a sword. "They told us to go inside", said Mohamed Faleel, 47, who runs a vehicle paint business.

Abdul Bari, 48, told Reuters his small brick shop had been burned down with a petrol bomb.

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The curfew will remain in force till 4 am on Tuesday, said police spokesman S.P. Ruwan Gunasekara. "Perpetrators could face up to a 10-year jail term", Gunasekera told Reuters.

In a televised address, Police Chief Chandana Wickramaratne warned that officers would respond to rioters with maximum force.

Asked who was organising the attacks, Dissanayake said: "I think these organisations that Amith Weerasinghe, Dan Priyasad, and Namal Kumara (are heading)", referring to the three Buddhist hardliners arrested on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also urged calm, saying the current situation is hindering the investigation into the Easter attacks.

He said it was awful and frightening to witness the unfolding events as innocent men, women and children of the Muslim community are targeted in reprisal for the horrendous and beastly attacks by some extremists on April 21.

"Mobs had attacked him with sharp weapons at his carpentry workshop", the official said.

A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings - which the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group claims to have helped - and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects.

"Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country", Nalaka Kaluwewa, the director general of the Department of Government Information said.