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Sri Lankan town under curfew over fears of communal violence

Press Trust of India  |  Colombo 

A curfew was imposed today in Sri Lanka's southern coastal town of Aluthgama to defuse a possible ethnic flare up after clashes between Muslims and Buddhists left several people wounded.

"An indefinite curfew will be in force at Aluthgama," police said.

A police spokesman appealed to the people to remain calm and not to disrupt the peace in the country.

The curfew was imposed following tensions which prevailed in the area after a Buddhist majority nationalist group staged a march in a Muslim-dominated area which they claimed had been stoned.

Many activists from both sides as well as bystanders were injured during the evening clashes.

The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds but failed to prevent the clashes until the Special Task Force (STF) arrived at the scene and used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.

"The curfew was declared to bring the situation under control," a police officer in the area told reporters.

The roots of the incident go back to last Thursday when a Buddhist monk alleged he had been beaten up in the nearby Beruwala town after a traffic incident.

Muslims make up about 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population.

First Published: Sun, June 15 2014. 21:05 IST