Sri Lankan communal violence: Tourism department issues statement saying situation improving in Kandy

The department of Sri Lankan tourism issued a statement on Thursday, where it said that the situation in Kandy is fast improving and no violent incidents have been reported in the last 18 hours. On Thursday, Sri Lankan Police temporarily lifted the curfew in Kandy district, IANS reported.

Meanwhile, Ranjith Madduma Bandara was sworn in as the in-charge of police soon after Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday replaced Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the law and order minister amidst fresh violence.

However, there were reports of violent clashes between Buddhist mobs and Muslims in Sri Lanka for the third day in a row early on Thursday, as armed mobs rampaged through towns and villages of central Sri Lanka, burning Muslim-owned houses and businesses, and leaving victims barricaded inside mosques. The clashes started after mobs burnt 11 Muslim owned properties in Kandy, following reports that a Buddhist man had been killed by a group of Muslims.

Buddhist mobs swept through Muslim neighbourhoods in Sri Lanka's central hills, destroying stores and restaurants despite a curfew, a state of emergency and a heavy deployment of security forces, residents told AP on Thursday.

About 50 people broke into a Mohamed Ramzeen's small restaurant in the town of Pilimathalawa on Wednesday night while the curfew was in effect, destroying nearly everything they found, he said. "The security in town is inadequate," Ramzeen said. "We fear for our lives."

Police stand guard in parts of Sri Lanka on Thursday. AP

Police stand guard in parts of Kandy on Thursday. AP

Others in the area around Kandy, the main hill town, described similar attacks since the violence began early this week. The streets of most towns were all but empty Thursday except for police and soldiers.

In suburban Pallekele, four houses were burned by mobs using petrol bombs during the curfew Wednesday night.

Mohamed Nazar said only he and his 64-year-old father remained in their house after they sent other family members to a relative's house for safety after the violence started.

"Around 8 pm, rocks started hitting the house with a mob shouting outside and we put the lights off. Then a large flame came and the house caught fire," Nazar said.

He said his father hid under a sofa, but he grabbed him and they ran out.

Police came and put out the fire, but much of his family's belongings were destroyed, he said.

Later, the Bishop of Colombo also issued a statement urging the government to take action against the perpetrators.

With inputs from AP

Updated Date: Mar 08, 2018 22:23 PM

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