Colombo: The Sri Lankan authorities on Monday enforced a 6 h countrywide curfew as violence between the majority Buddhists and minority Muslims spread to new areas in the island nation in the latest fallout of the Easter Sunday suicide bombings, which had killed nearly 260 people.
“The curfew has been imposed from 9 PM tonight to 4 AM tomorrow,” a police spokesperson said.
Army chief Mahesh Senanayake said the troops have been instructed to deal very strictly with those who defy the curfew.
The Army will shoot on sight if anyone defy the order, he added.
Earlier in the day, the police imposed a curfew again, few hours after it was lifted, on four towns of Kuliyapitiya, Bingiriya, Dummalasuriya and Hettipola in the north western region till 4 a.m. tomorrow following a communal clash in the area. It was later extended to the entire North Western Province as violence continued to spread.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appealed for calm after the unrest broke out, especially in Kurunegala district targeting Muslims, and appealed to the public not to be swayed by false information.
“I appeal to all citizens to remain calm and not be swayed by false information. Security forces are working tirelessly to apprehend terrorists and ensure the security of the country, but each time there is civil unrest, we increase their burden and hamper ongoing investigations,” he said.
The Lankan government on Monday also imposed once again a ban on social media following violent incidents between the minority Muslim and majority Sinhalese communities in the country. The blockade of Facebook and WhatsApp comes a day after Sri Lankan Police imposed curfew in the country’s western coastal town of Chilaw where a mob attacked a mosque and some shops owned by Muslims over a dispute that started on a Facebook post by a Muslim shop owner.
The violence is a new backlash from the Easter attacks where nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels, killing 253 people and injuring over 500 others.
The Islamic State terror group claimed the attacks, but the government blamed local Islamist extremist group National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ).
Sri Lanka banned the NTJ and arrested over 100 people in connection with the blasts.