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Sinhala group attacks Muslim shops, Rajapaksa urges restraint by all parties

Muslim property ablaze in Aluthgama (Picture: BBC Sinhala)

Several Muslim owned shops have been burnt down in the town of Aluthgama on Sunday, after a rally by Sinhalese in the town resulted in clashes.

The rally was organised after reports that a monk was attacked by a Muslim man emerged last week, with a subsequent protest by Sinhalese residents seeing several Muslim shops attacked.

According to The Republic Square, another rally earlier today resulted in further violence, after Muslims threw stones at the Sinhalese rally, with Sinhalese mobs later roaming the streets, attacking Muslim businesses and mosques.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted in English and Sinhala that an investigation into the incidents in Aluthgama will be conducted to hold those responsible to account, urging all parties to act with restraint.

 

Bodu Bala Sena leader Gnanasara threatened violence against Muslims at the rally, before the clashes.

“In this country we still have a Sinhala Police, we still have a Sinhala Army. After today, if a single Marakkalaya (Muslim) or some other paraya (alien) touches a single Sinhalese...it will be their end,” the leader of the BBS, a group made up of Buddhist monks, said .

Aluthgama residents at BBS rally, before the violence erupted (Picture: BBC Sinhala)

Sri Lankan media has been relatively mute on the ongoing situation, with most information coming from reporters on the ground, using Twitter and other social media to highlight the attacks.

A BBC reporter said on Twitter that it looked "like a war" once the clashes erupted.

The curfew imposed on Aluthgama was later extended to the neighbouring town of Beruwala, after Sinhala protestors were reported to have entered the town with a sizeable Muslim population.

 

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