A curfew imposed in southern Sri Lanka following clashes between Buddhist and Muslim groups was extended indefinitely after more than 80 people were injured and scores of shops and houses damaged, hospital and police officials said Monday.
Clashes broke out Sunday in Aluthgama, 60 kilometres south of Colombo, when a group led by Buddhist monks protested a previous attack by a Muslim group on a monk in the area.
“The curfew imposed on Sunday evening has been extended indefinitely in the two areas,” said police spokesman Ajith Rohana, referring to Aluthgama and the adjoining town of Beruwala, which are both predominantly Muslim areas.
Most of the damage was to shops and houses owned by Muslims, a minority group in Sri Lanka. Several shops were burnt down.
“The government will not allow anyone to take the law into their hands. An inquiry will be held,” said President Mahinda Rajapaksa on his Twitter account while attending the G-77 summit in Bolivia.
Members of the radical Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena reportedly led the attack on the Muslims. The group includes Buddhist monks and says it is trying to protect the rights of Buddhists.
Buddhists make up about 70 per cent of the country’s population of 20 million.