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Several Tamil students admitted into hospital following assault

UPDATED: 1455 GMT

A group of Tamil students have been hospitalised following an attack by a mob of Sinhala students at the Uva Wellawassa University on Wednesday, as racial tension continued to flare up across the campus.

The attack, which was reportedly unprovoked, took place just outside the canteen at the university, which is situated in the Sinhala south. The Tamil students, who are in their second year of study, had been sat watching the cricket world cup with their colleagues. As they walked out of the canteen, they were all assaulted. Several third and fourth year Tamils students who attempted to intervene were also injured in the attack. Seven students have since been admitted into Badulla hospital due to the extent of their injuries.

When asked to identify their attackers, the fear of further provocations prevented many of the Tamil students from speaking out. Despite this, reports have named second year Export Agriculture student Dhammika Prasad from Gampaha as one of the key ringleaders of the attack.

There is still an air of tension over the campus today, with the alleged attackers reportedly collecting the addresses of the Tamil students and continuing to shout anti-Tamil slurs at passers by.

There seems to be no immediate trigger for the incident, which has left Tamil students in the town in fear of venturing out into public. At the university though,  Tamil students report a history of animosity and tension at the campus.

Numerically outnumbered, Tamil students report having been the target of taunts and bullying by Sinhalese at the university. This has been compounded by the fact that all the appointed student representatives are Sinhalese and the university continues to carry out all communications in Sinhala only - a problem that has been repeatedly highlighted by Tamil students.

The issue of ‘ragging’ at universities is also thought to have played a role. The practise, comparable to the hazing of new students, is rife across South Asia and has had sometimes fatal outcomes. At the Uva University, Sinhalese students were reportedly irritated at the refusal of Tamil second years to rag the freshmen.

The attack comes after nine Tamil students at the Eastern University's Trincomalee campus were attacked by Sinhala students earlier this month, in a similar incident amongst another similarly hostile backdrop.

Sinhala mob attacks Tamil students (31 Mar 2016)

Sinhalese students attack Tamils at Eastern Uni (13 March 2016)