Why Was A State of Emergency Declared In Sri Lanka?

Troops and elite police have been sent to central Kandy district and imposed a curfew there on Monday to prevent clashes between majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Muslims after a mob set fire to a Muslim-owned shop. REUTERS  Dinuka Liyanawatte

Troops and elite police have been sent to central Kandy district and imposed a curfew there on Monday to prevent clashes between majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Muslims after a mob set fire to a Muslim-owned shop. REUTERS Dinuka Liyanawatte

The government also condemned the hate and "mischievous misinformation" campaigns carried out on social media, with the clear objective of creating disharmony among communities and inciting violence.

More than 150 homes, shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims were set ablaze by mobs of Sinhalese rioters Monday and Tuesday.

"They have a duty to protect vulnerable groups and hold the perpetrators accountable".

It is the first time since Sri Lanka imposed an emergency since 2011, after ending a bloody civil war with Tamil separatists.

According to local media reports, users will not be able to access popular social media networks in Kandy district, the centre of violence, and other places across the country.

"President Sirisena has promulgated a state of emergency to restore normalcy and for the protection of the lives of people, maintenance of essential public services without interruption and to restore peace, law and order", it added.

"We want to apologise to the Muslim community for the inhuman acts that have taken place", state enterprise development minister Lakshman Kiriella said in parliament.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said that there had been several incidents on Tuesday night in the Kandy area, "The police arrested seven people".

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"Hundreds of Muslim residents of Mullegama, a village in the hills of central Sri Lanka, barricaded themselves inside a local mosque after Buddhist mobs attacked their homes Wednesday morning accusing them of stealing the donation box of a nearby temple".

Sri Lanka's armed police personnel stand near a vandalized building in Digana, a suburb of Kandy, Sri Lanka, March 6, 2018.

Analysts say the government has been alarmed by the speed with which the trouble spread in two districts of Kandy and sought to contain it through the imposition of emergency.

Later on Tuesday, an angry mob began attacking Muslim households, businesses, and mosques; violence in the area prompted police to fire tear gas and rubber pellets to control the mob, which also included monks, said police officials, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on talking to the media.

Canada is among the countries, also including Denmark, Norway and the US, to issue warnings to citizens in Sri Lanka.

A senior official, on the condition of anonymity, said that it was a "temporary measure" and soon all the restrictions would be removed.

Postings have appeared on Facebook threatening more attacks on Muslims.

Former president and MP Mahinda Rajapaksa alleged that the Wickremesinghe-led UNP was not interested in resolving the communal problem in Kandy.

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