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Fresh clashes between Buddhists and Muslims kill three in Sri Lanka
Monday June 16, 2014 5:59 AM, Agenices

Three people have been killed and 37 others are injured in fresh clashes which erupted between Buddhist nationalists and Muslims Sunday in a southern Sri Lankan town, according to the local hospital.

Sri Lanka clashes
[Clashes broke out as Buddhists marched into Muslim populated areas. (BBC Photo)]

Eyewitnesses say that Buddhist hardliners pelted stones at the Mosque in Dharga town and mobs set fire to several shops owned by Muslims. They were also pulled off local buses and beaten. There are also reports of looting.

The latest violence began after a Buddhist rally in Aluthgama. Several people are reported to have been injured, shops burned and stones thrown at Buddhist marchers there, according to BBC.

Police used tear gas to end the violence after members of the group marched through predominantly Muslim areas and clashes erupted, with Muslim-owned shops and businesses attacked.

Police and Special Task Force units were deployed to contain the violence.

"Police curfew has been imposed with immediate effect in Aluthgama Police area, after tense situation in order to prevent further clashes," Police Spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana told Anadolu Agency.

"Police curfew is imposed in Beruwala Police area as well. People are requested to be calm", he added.

Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa criticized the clashes, which erupted after a rally by Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena in the town of Aluthgama, led by their Secretary-General Galagodaththe Gnanasara.

"The Government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands. I urge all parties concerned to act in restraint. An investigation will be held for law to take its course of action to bring to book those responsible for incidents in Aluthgama," said Rajapaksa, in a series of posts on social media website Twitter.

"I ask my Sinhala & Muslim brothers & sisters in Aluthgama to stand together", he added.

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka welcomed the police curfew and urged Muslims to remain calm and not to be provoked into retaliating.

Deputy Minister of Investment Promotion Faizer Mustafa, who has just returned from a trip to Japan, is currently on his way to the Aluthgama to assess the situation.

Bodu Bala Sena, which literally translates to Buddhist Power Force, is a right-wing Buddhist group that was established after the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war in 2009. They belong to the country's Sinhalese Buddhist majority and have been accused of inciting hate against other religions in Sri Lanka.


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