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Security tightened in Sri Lanka ahead of protests by Muslims
Thursday June 19, 2014 8:26 PM, Agencies

Police will tighten security around Sri Lanka in anticipation of Muslim protests Friday after communal clashes killed three people in the island's south, the police chief said Thursday.

A special security operation will be put into effect Friday when most Muslims will gather at mosques to pray, Xinhua quoted K. Illangakoon as saying.

Over the past few days, protests against the Buddhist-Muslim clashes have spread. Opposition politicians have condemned the incident in parliament.

The move comes after the Muslim community in Colombo and the Eastern Province staged protests by closing their shops.

The clashes took place in the southern Sri Lankan towns of Aluthgama and Beruwala that resulted in widespread violence with dozens of shops and houses torched.

The protests took place in five towns in the Eastern Province.

"We wish to make a special appeal to all communities, especially Muslims, to act with restraint," the police chief said.

Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella joined the police chief in reiterating that law would be upheld to punish offenders arrested during the three days of tension.

Residents of Aluthgama and Beruwela say that the riots were too synchronised, and too organised to have been a random one. The police and the army have been criticised for not containing the rioters, who continued to attack and burn long after the curfew was imposed.

But, police officials rejected allegations of bias by pointing out that only seven of the 55 people arrested were Muslims while the rest are Buddhists.

Three Muslims were killed and 37 others were injured in the clashes that erupted between Buddhist nationalists and Muslims Sunday in a southern Sri Lankan town, according to the local hospital.

Police records however show, 31 people were injured, of which 14 were Muslims and 17 Sinhalese. Police have received 138 complaints of vandalism and looting.

"We deny that police stood by and did nothing when shops and houses were being burnt and looted," the police chief said.

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