Police in central Sri Lanka imposed a curfew to quell anti-Muslim violence after mobs from the majority ethnic Sinhalese population burned shops and homes in retaliation for a death that’s the subject of a dispute.
The violence in the Kandy district occurred Monday after an ethnic Sinhalese man died in hospital after he was attacked by a group of Muslims.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara confirmed the imposition of curfew but declined to provide details on injuries and property damage.
The government said in a statement that police were put on alert to prevent the violence from spreading and asked the people to “act with responsibility and remain calm.”
At least 11 shops and homes were set on fire, said Keerthi Tennakoon, chief executive of the Sri Lanka-based Center for Human Rights and Research group.
About 75 percent of Sri Lanka’s population is Sinhalese who are mostly Buddhists while about nine percent is Muslim.
The largely cordial relationship between the two communities has been strained in recent years with Buddhist monks and hard-line Sinhala groups accusing Muslims of expansionism and of trying to undermine the majority community.