Sri Lanka on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for 10 days, to curb heightening violence targeting the island’s Muslim minority. The development follows days of anti-Muslim attacks in Kandy, located in Sri Lanka’s Central Province. The riots, according to local reports, have so far claimed at least two lives. Several mosques, shops and homes were set to fire and destroyed over the last few days, prompting the police to impose a curfew in the town since Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, the government announced its decision to declare Emergency Rule after a Cabinet meeting. “President promulgated a State Emergency a short while ago to redress the unsatisfactory security situation prevailing in certain parts of the country. The Police & Armed Forces have been suitably empowered to deal with criminal elements in the society & urgently restore normalcy,” the Presidential Media Division said in a tweet.
“At a special Cabinet meeting, it was decided to declare a state of emergency for 10 days to prevent the spread of communal riots,” government spokesman and Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara told Reuters .
Govt. under attack for 'delayed' response to violence
Over the last week, the government and the security establishment have come under fierce public attack for what critics termed a delayed and inadequate response to escalating violence in Kandy. The riots were triggered by the death of a 41-year-old man from the majority Sinhalese community, who was beaten up by a mob, reportedly Muslim, following a road rage incident. The suspects were arrested and remanded, police said.
The attacks in Kandy also come a week after mobs, reportedly Sinhalese, engaged in targeted anti-Muslim attacks in the eastern town of Ampara. Sri Lanka is the second country in the region to promulgate a state of emergency this year. Early February, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen declared Emergency Rule for a fortnight, and later extended it by another 30 days.