Mullegama: Despite a state of emergency, Buddhist mobs continue to burn Muslim homes and businesses in Sri Lanka forcing the survivors to take refuge inside mosques, reported the Associated Press.
The government has also ordered blockage of social network sites in a bid to stop violence from spreading. There is huge deployment of forces all over the worst hit areas. The police also ordered a curfew across much of the region for a third straight day, trying to calm the situation.
Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence, a government spokesman said on Tuesday, a day after Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the Indian Ocean island’s central district of Kandy.
Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.
Hundreds of Muslim residents of Mullegama, a village in the hills of central Sri Lanka, barricaded themselves inside a local mosque after Buddhist mobs attacked their homes on Wednesday morning accusing them of stealing the donation box of a nearby temple.
At least 20 Muslim homes appeared badly damaged and flames engulfed one two-story home.
The Muslims hiding in the mosque, speaking on condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals, said police prevented them from saving their property and did nothing to stop the attackers.
According to reports, Muslim homes, business and mosques were badly damaged in riots Monday triggered by the death of a Sinhalese man at the hands of a mob last week. The Sinhalese are a mainly Buddhist ethnic group making up nearly three-quarters of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people. Muslims are just 10 percent of its population.
Sri Lanka has long been divided between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and minority Tamils who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian. The country remains deeply scarred by its 1983-2009 civil war, when Tamil rebels fought to create an independent homeland.
While the rebels were eventually crushed, the Buddhist-Muslim religious divide has taken hold in recent years.