Sri Lanka imposes state of emergency over communal violence

Sri Lanka’s government has imposed a nation-wide state of emergency to “take stern action” against people instigating communal violence, a government spokesman has said.

The meassure comes after a local curfew was imposed on Monday in the central city Kandy, after days of unrest between religious communities with a Buddhist man killed and Muslim businesses set ablaze.

Police said on Monday there had been riots and arson attacks since the weekend in Kandy district, while sources told Al Jazeera the violence was spreading throughout the South Asian island nation.

In the past, religious and ethnic violence had turned deadly in Sri Lanka, where Muslims account for 10 percent of the 21 million population, and Buddhists Sinhalese make up nearly 75 percent. Another 13 percent of the population are Hindus.

Some observers blame the nationalist Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) group for the ongoing violence.

In February 2018, five people were wounded and several shops and a mosque were damaged during a clash between Buddhist and Muslim groups.

In June 2014, an anti-Muslim campaign was launched following the deadly Aluthgama riots.

Some hardline Buddhist groups have also accused Muslim groups of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.

President Maithripala Siresena had vowed to investigate anti-Muslim crimes after assuming power in 2015, but no significant progress has been reported.

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