Wed, May 15, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka claim first life


A man stands in front of the Jumha mosque yesterday after a mob attack in Minuwangoda, Sri Lanka.

Photo: AFP

Parts of Sri Lanka were yesterday under indefinite curfew and social media banned after a man was killed by a sword-wielding mob in an escalating anti-Muslim backlash following the Easter terror attacks.

Violence broke out late on Monday, three weeks after Muslim extremist bombings killed 258 people, with mobs carrying out arson attacks, including one involving about 2,000 people who vandalized a mosque, witnesses said.

A nationwide curfew imposed overnight was raised yesterday morning except for the North-Western Province (NWP), where police said a 45-year-old Muslim man was killed in his carpentry shop by a crowd carrying swords.

Elsewhere in the province north of Colombo rampaging mobs, who outnumbered police and security forces, set fire to Muslim-owned shops, vandalized homes and smashed windows, furniture and fittings inside several mosques.

In the adjoining Gampaha District, men on motorbikes led arson attacks in the town of Minuwangoda, 45km north of Colombo, residents said.

“It was the men on motorbikes who started the violence. They were from out of town,” an owner of an electronic goods store said by telephone. “After they started smashing Muslim shops and throwing gasoline bombs, the locals joined in.”

He said that police and security forces appeared to be overwhelmed and that by the time troops fired in the air to disperse the mobs, it was too late for many of the shops targeted.

A pasta factory owned by a Muslim businessman was destroyed after unidentified attackers threw burning tires into the facility, reducing it to ashes.

“There were security forces outside, but they could not stop the attack that happened during curfew hours,” Diamond Pasta Private Ltd owner Ashraf Jifthy said by telephone.

“Police and security forces also did not do anything to put out the fire,” Jifthy said. “Three of my Muslim workers were injured while trying to escape from the burning factory.”

A mosque in Minuwangoda was also stoned. In the NWP, attackers systematically targeted mosques for two days, local clerics said.

In the town of Kinyama, two mosques were smashed as the outnumbered armed police and troops stood by.

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