Monday, May 13, 2019 9:37 pm
Authorities in Sri Lanka have imposed a nationwide curfew as a precautionary measure to prevent a flare-up of ethno-religious violence in the wake of the deadly Easter Sunday attacks.
Police report said sporadic incidents were first reported from the North Western Province where a curfew was imposed from Monday to prevent the spread of violence.
They said that by night of Sunday, the curfew has extended to other areas in the country.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said ethnic violence could cost security and police resources that should be used for investigations regarding the Easter Sunday bombings.
“I have ordered the forces to strictly enforce the curfew and take action against those creating violence,” he said.
He said the country would be destabilised if the attacks result in ethnic violence.
Reports say tension started rising Sunday after an incident between the Muslim minority and the Sinhalese majority due to inflammatory messages on social media.
Accordingto reports, a message shared on Facebook prompted several people to surround and damage an Islamic religious centre on Sunday in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres north of Colombo.
Police arrested one person, identified as Abdul Hameed Mohamed, who had allegedly posted an inflammatory message on Facebook.
Some social media networks were temporarily blocked in Sri Lanka after messages shared online raised religious tensions between some Muslims and Sinhalese.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara, said there were other false messages on social media, which claimed a group of terrorists was arrested close to the capital.
He said armed forces and police personnel have increased security in the wake of reports that a terrorist group was planning to carry out attacks in several locations in the capital.
Reports also say that attendance at schools and offices dropped, mostly in Colombo and larger towns.
Security has been tight in Sri Lanka since Easter Sunday, when 257 people were killed in suicide attacks in three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations.
The bombers were identified as members of an Islamist extremist group.
Meanwhile, Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, departed for China on Monday and appointed Ruwan Wijewardene as the acting Defense Minister in his absence.
The Easter Sunday bombings occurred while Sirisena, who served as defence minister, was on a private trip to Singapore.
NAN reports that President Maithripala Sirisena was criticised for failing to name an acting defence minister during his absence.