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Lanka govt imposes nationwide curfew, blocks social media as communal violence spreads

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

The Sri on Monday enforced a countrywide and blocked platforms to stop people inciting violence as spread to new areas in the island nation in the worst unrest since Sunday bombings which killed nearly 260 people.

Police also fired tear gas at mobs attacking mosques and shops owned by Muslims in various parts of the country.

"The has been imposed from 9 p.m. tonight to 4 a.m. tomorrow," a said.

said the troops have been instructed to deal very strictly with those who defy the

The will shoot on sight if anyone defy the order, he added.

Earlier in the day, the police reimposed a curfew, few hours after it was lifted, on four towns of Kuliyapitiya, Bingiriya, and 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 spread to other areas.

in an address to the nation said the military has been asked to quell the anti-Muslim riot and urged public cooperation to the security forces to bring the situation under control.

"The security forces have been given full powers to deal with those who violate the state of emergency and the islandwide curfew," he said.

He also appealed for calm urged 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 also reimposed a ban on following the violent clashes between the minority Muslim and majority Sinhalese communities.

The blockade of and comes a day after imposed curfew in the country's western coastal town of where a mob attacked a mosque and some shops owned by Muslims in a dispute that started on a post by a Muslim shop owner.

The of the post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, wrote: "Don't laugh more, 1 day u will cry".

The Muslim shopkeeper's comment was taken by local Christians as a warning of an impending attack.

has previously blocked several times after the Eastern Sunday bombings to prevent the spread of false reports.

The majority nationalist groups have been active on Facebook, reviving calls for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses and spreading hate.

The recent violence is a fresh backlash from the 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 (NTJ) and later banned the outfit.

Over 1,000 have been arrested since the attacks. say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings but that the threat of global terrorism persists.

has vowed to eliminate the militants and restore normality in the country.

has a population of 21 million which is a patchwork of ethnicities and religions, dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority.

Muslims account for 10 per cent of the population and are the second-largest minority after Hindus. Around seven per cent of Sri Lankans are Christians.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 13 2019. 22:01 IST