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Curfew re-imposed in Kandy; internet blocked

Sri Lanka's Special Task Force and Police officers stand guard near a burnt house after a clash between two communities in Digana, central district of Kandy, on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Curfew was re-imposed on Wednesday  in Sri Lanka’s riot-hit Kandy district with immediate effect until further notice following reports of violence between majority Sinhala Buddhists and minority Muslims in other areas of the multi-ethnic district.

The authorities imposed curfew on Tuesday till Wednesday morning after communal violence erupted in the Theldeniya area of the central hill district that left two persons dead and damaged several mosques and homes.

Government spokesperson Rajitha Senaratne said that the curfew has been extended to prevent further violence.

Police fired teargas shells to disperse rioters in curfew-bound areas hours after a state of emergency was imposed in a bid to quell anti-Muslim violence, an senior police official said.

Following the incidents of violence, President Maithripala Sirisena declared a state of emergency on Tuesday and deployed police and military to prevent further violence.

It was the first time since August 2011 that a state of emergency was in force in the Indian Ocean island.

In the incidents of overnight violence in a Kandy suburb, Menikhinna, three policemen were injured while seven people were arrested for breaking the curfew and trying to cause unrest, police spokesman Superintendent of Police (SP) Ruwan Gunasekera said.

The government sent troops and elite police commandos to Kandy, home to famous tea plantations and Buddhist relics, to restore order and enforce the curfew.

The curfew was lifted last morning but was re-imposed soon after several mosques, shops and homes belonging to the minority community were badly damaged in the attacks by the Sinhalese Buddhists.

Sri Lanka has a long history of state of emergency during the LTTE rebellion both in the south and the Tamil minority dominated north and east of the island.

Schools in Kandy, which is about 115km from Colombo, remained closed on Wednesday.

The Sri Lanka government also has restricted the access to internet and blocked Facebook in Kandy district. This has been done to prevent spread of false information, the government spokesperson said.

The government ordered more troops to reinforce police and stop the unrest spreading.

Three special police teams, comprising three Deputy Inspector Generals of Police and three Superintendents of Police, have been deployed in Kandy on the instructions of the Inspector General of Police Pujith Jayasundara, the police spokesman said.

Meanwhile, following declaration of a state of emergency, foreign governments, including the U.S. and the U.K., have asked their nationals visiting the island nation to “exercise caution, avoid protests and rallies, and comply with local security requirements“.

U.N. under secretary-general for political affairs Jeffrey Feltman will be visiting Sri Lanka this week.

The U.N. spokesman said that Mr. Feltman will reach Colombo on Friday for a three-day tour and is also expected to visit Kandy.

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Printable version | Mar 4, 2021 3:48:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/curfew-re-imposed-in-kandy-internet-blocked/article22967846.ece

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