Sri Lanka province under curfew after first riot death

Curfew in Sri Lanka after attack on mosques Facebook Whats App blocked to curb violence

A Sri Lankan Cabinet minister says a Muslim man was killed and dozens of shops and mosques were destroyed in communal violence in apparent retaliation to the Easter Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people.

The 45-year-old man died shortly after admission to a hospital in Puttalam district during anti-Muslim rioting, which began Sunday in the area, a police official told AFP.

The attack was triggered by a group of people demanding a search of the building after soldiers inspected a lake nearby looking for weapons, Reuters news agency reports.

On 13 May, the Government imposed a countrywide curfew following reports of widespread attacks against Muslim-owned businesses, homes and mosques. "When mobs tried to attack mosques, we fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse them".

An islandwide curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka on Monday following violent anti-Muslim clashes which erupted in the northwestern province and the Gampaha district, in the outskirts of capital Colombo.

The latest rioting came three weeks after a string of suicide bomb attacks against three Christian churches and three luxury hotels, leaving 258 people dead and almost 500 wounded. Amith Weerasinghe who has been arrested on 14 May in connection to the attacks was also one of the people previously arrested, and later released on bail in 2018 for his role in anti-Muslim attacks in Digana.

Later the curfew was extended to cover the entire country of 21 million people.

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Officials have blocked some social media platforms and messaging apps, including Facebook and Whatsapp, in an attempt to curb the violence.

Seven of those arrested were young Sinhalese Buddhist men who reportedly led the mobs and directed them to attack particular homes, businesses and mosques.

Muslim residents in parts of the country's North Western Province accused the police and army of standing by while mobs attacked.

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

Earlier, Sri Lankan Civil Aviation Authority banned the use of drone and unmanned aircraft following the devastating terror attack on Easter Sunday.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out by radicalised local Muslims.

The latest unrest came as Catholic churches resumed public Sunday masses for the first time since the bombings.

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