New anti-Muslim attack in Sri Lanka despite stepped-up security

Soldiers guard mosques in tense Sri Lanka

Soldiers guard mosques in tense Sri Lanka

Sinhalese and Muslim groups staged a demonstration outside the Colombo railway station on Thursday, demanding tougher action against the attackers.

The violence has raised fears of instability in Sri Lanka, a South Asian island nation still struggling to recover from almost three decades of ethnic civil war.

Violence erupted on Monday after a Sinhalese man died of injuries suffered during an attack last week by four Muslim men.

Police said as no major incidents of violence have been reported from the troubled areas since yesterday, so the curfew has been lifted from Kandy town.

The committee, comprising three retired judges, will investigate the causes of the incident that claimed at least two lives and severely damaged property, official sources said.

Tensions have been rising over the past year between Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority, who are mainly Buddhist, and Muslims, leading to attacks on businesses, homes and places of worship. "At the same time, the authorities are folding their arms and watching", said Muslim businessman M. Jaffer, as quoted in Thursday's DailyFT newspaper.

Police have arrested the suspected instigators of the riots.

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Violent attacks against Muslims swept the central district of Kandy over the last week.

'We are investigating who funded them, their future plans, and whether they have any local political leadership and whether there was any foreign involvement behind this, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara told reporters in Colombo.

He said all 10 suspects had been remanded in custody for 14 days and brought to Colombo for questioning.

Police were deployed to mosques across Sri Lanka on Friday to guard worshippers from the island's minority Muslim community during weekly prayers.

Sinhalese Buddhists are the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka, making up 75 percent of its 21 million people.

In an interview with Dawn, Lt. Gen. Senanayake said he had urged President Maithripala Sirisena to "rebuild minds" to ensure the trust of the island's Muslim community in the Sinhala community.

Despite the imposition of emergency, security forces stood by and watched during the latest attacks in the central part of Sri Lanka. The government defeated the rebels in 2009.

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