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Security forces, curfew assist Buddhist mobs attacking Muslims

Anti-Muslim violence continued for a second day in Aluthgama, southwestern Sri Lanka, as Sinhala Buddhist mobs torched dozens of Muslim-owned shops and attacked Muslim houses.

The violence, which started Sunday in Aluthgama, spread to new areas of the town, with rioters moving around freely despite a government curfew and the deploying of over 1,200 police. On Tuesday Army troops were also deployed. See PTI’s report here.

Much of Muslim commerce in Aluthgama has been destroyed with reports of attacks on Muslim businesses in two other towns, the BBC reported.

The violence is being orchestrated by the Buddhist group, Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Force Movement, with Buddhist monks amongst the rioters.

Muslims say the curfew is being selectively enforced by security forces who ignore Buddhist rioters while confronting Muslims and preventing them from leaving their homes.

Police and special forces just tried to disperse Muslims using teargas and they did nothing to control those Buddhist monks and their riot mobs,” Reuters quoted a local Muslim as saying, on condition of anonymity.

At times police have withdrawn from areas allowing rioters free rein, returning only after the destruction was over, reports said. See details here.

According to Reuters "many independent analysts say well-coordinated violence against Muslims and Christians appears to have tacit state backing as those involved in previous attacks have yet to be punished".

Reuters also quoted one resident as saying, "They (the rioters) came in ... lorries behind the police and looted all our houses. Then they torched my house. They are well organised."

Three people were reported killed in the first night of rioting on Sunday with over 80 wounded. The deaths occurred when Buddhists fired on Muslims trying to prevent them attacking a mosque, a police officer told Reuters.

On Monday night an unarmed Tamil security guard for a Muslim owned poultry farm near Aluthgama was hacked to death and his Sinhala colleague wounded by a mob of between 50 and 120, the BBC said.

AP quoted residents saying houses and shops were destroyed overnight by a mob of over 50 armed men, despite the curfew.

Reports also said many Muslim residents are running short of food due to the curfew and blockading of the area by Buddhist rioters.

See related articles: 

Tamil groups condemn attacks against Muslims, call for justice (18 June 2014)

'Those responsible for killings must be held to account’ says Amnesty (17 Jun 2014)

OIC: Sri Lanka must bring perpetrators of anti-Islamic violence to justice (17 Jun 2014)

UN rights chief ‘deeply alarmed’ by violence in Sri Lanka (16 Jun 2014)

Sinhalese mob violence leaves three Muslims dead (16 Jun 2014)

Sinhala group attacks Muslim shops, Rajapaksa urges restraint by all parties (15 Jun 2014)

 

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