Sri Lanka steps up security ahead of Friday prayers

Sri Lanka steps up security ahead of Friday prayers

Sri Lanka steps up security ahead of Friday prayers

Police said Sinhalese extremists were using social media sites and messaging applications to spread hate speech and instigate attacks on the Muslim minority.

About 3,000 police, 2,500 army personnel and 750 special task forces have been deployed in Kandy.

The situation was tense amid fears that more clashes may break out after the Friday prayers, but "no such incidents were reported", the police official said, adding that 65 more people have been arrested till this morning. "The arrest of key suspects yesterday is a start and convictions must follow", said Frederick Rawski, ICJ's Asia director.

Army chief Mahesh Senanayake visited Kandy on Thursday and promised an increased military presence near mosques nationwide.

The Muslim representatives said that legal action must be taken against the individuals who are engaging in such anti-social acts without considering their positions.

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Amid severe criticism against police inaction, the law and order portfolio temporarily held by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was handed to a senior politician.

The communal violence has also hit the the tourism industry, as a number of foreign cancelled their visits.

Petrol bombs were hurled at a mosque overnight in the town of Kuruwita even as hundreds of police, soldiers and commandos had been placed on duty to quell violence in Sri Lanka's Kandy District.

"The government must show that it will bring to account those who have incited communal violence, particularly notorious figures who have been emboldened by the pervading impunity to preach hatred openly and publicly". However, the Central Province Education Ministry today said that schools will reopen on Monday.

The government declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew while troop reinforcements were used to back police patrols.

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Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena said a three member commission of inquiry will be appointed to probe nationalist violence against the island's Muslim minority.

They named the main suspect as Amith Weerasinghe, a Sinhalese known for anti-Muslim activism and outspoken social media posts.

According to Amnesty International, on March 5, a mob set homes, shops and a mosque belonging to the local Muslim community ablaze in the Digana area of Kandy.

The Kandy region is about 115 kilometres from Colombo.

In June 2014 riots between Buddhists, led by radical monks, and Muslims left four dead.

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