Aluthgama earlier today (Picture: @cfhaviland)
At least three members of the Muslim community were killed, and over 80 left injured, after Sinhalese mobs went on a rampage in Aluthgama, southern Sri Lanka.
Violence erupted on Sunday, after a rally in the town by the Bodu Bala Sena, a Buddhist organisation led by monks, resulted in clashes and attacks on Muslim homes, businesses and mosques.
The attacks are reported to have spread to neighbouring towns today, according to Al Jazeera.
"At least nine shops and up to 40 houses have been gutted in Aluthgama, while three mosques were attacked," Hilmy Ahmed, the spokesman of Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told Al Jazeera over the phone.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said the incidents would be investigated.
Sri Lanka’s media has been relatively muted on the worst violence, while the Government Information Department has warned media institutions from publishing news that could cause “disharmony”, saying that “rumours and misinterpretations have been spread on an incident occurred in Aluthgama yesterday.”
“These kinds of rumours could not be approved of and against the ethics of media,” the statement said.
|“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,” - BBS leader Gnanasara at Aluthgama rally on Sunday|
The US embassy in Colombo has condemned the violence in a statement and called on the authorities to protect lives and properties of all citizens.
“We urge the authorities to investigate these attacks and bring those responsible to justice. We also urge all sides to refrain from violence, exercise restraint, and respect the rule of law,” the statement said.
The BBS is widely thought to have the support of senior government figures, including the president’s brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.