Sri Lanka imposes nationwide curfew after reports of riots against Muslims
Colombo : Sri Lanka on Monday imposed a nationwide curfew, after reports of anti-Muslim riots emerged from at least three districts.
According to official sources, the curfew has been imposed with an aim to stop escalation of violence.
Initially, the districts of Puttalam, Kurunegala and Gampaha, near Colombo, were told to stay indoors after Christian-led mobs attacked several Muslim-owned businesses and mosques on Sunday and Monday.
"The curfew in the three districts will be lifted at 6.00 am on Tuesday while in the rest of the country, a curfew will be imposed from 9.00 pm (1530 GMT) till 4.00 am (2130 GMT)," police said in a statement.
The social media networks and messaging apps like Facebook and Whatsapp usage were also blocked in Sri Lanka on Monday.
The cops battled hundreds of the rioters in at least six towns with teargas.
"Several shops have been attacked," a senior police officer told AFP. "When mobs tried to attack mosques, we fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse them."
"There is a strong political element to the riots today. There are people trying to make political capital out of this situation."
There were no immediate reports of casualties or arrests, police said.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has urged the people of Sri Lanka to maintain peace and not believe in rumours.
"I appeal to all citizens to remain calm and not be swayed by false information," Wickremesinghe said on Twitter, which was not targeted in the social media blockade.
"Security forces are working tirelessly to apprehend terrorists and ensure the security of the country, but each time there is civil unrest, we increase their burden and hamper ongoing investigations."
Islamic State had claimed the Easter day suicide bombing in Sri Lanka that killed over 400 people.