Sri Lanka’s North Western province descended into unbridled violence today, as Sinhalese mobs attacked several mosques, set ablaze shops and stoned Muslim homes in the Kurungela District. At least one man has been reported to have been killed during the violence.
Initially calling for a curfew in six villages in the district, police imposed an island-wide curfew as the violence spread.
Locals reported police and security forces failing to act as mobs moved through villages in anti-Muslim violence, brandishing make shift weapons in broad daylight. The government blocked social media platforms including WhatsApp and Facebook as the violence spread.
Videos of burning shops and attacked homes started to emerge as the evening progressed. The situation across the island remains tense.
“There are hundreds of rioters, police and army are just watching. They have burnt our mosques and smashed many shops owned by Muslims,” a resident of Kottampitiya area told Reuters by telephone, asking not to be identified for fear of reprisals. “When we try to come out of our house, police tell us to stay inside.”
Speaking to The Hindu, one villager said,
“It began in the afternoon today. It was like they had planned to move form one village to the next, attacking our homes and property. A group of men are still on motorbikes, making big noise, while villagers are either indoors, or hiding in the nearby jungles in fear.”
Further attacks were reported close to the capital Colombo, as mosques where attacked in Chilaw town.
Close to Negembo, where one of the Easter Sunday Attacks occurred, shops were also reportedly set ablaze.
The latest bout of anti-Muslim violence comes despite the Sri Lankan state’s security apparatus being in full deployment, with anti-terror search operations across the island.