Sri Lanka forces on patrol after anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lankan soldiers patrol a road in the North Western Province on top of an armored vehicle to prevent fresh mob violence in the region. (FIle/Reuters)
Updated 16 May 2019
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Sri Lanka forces on patrol after anti-Muslim riots

  • But some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP

COLOMBO: Troops and police patrolled parts of Sri Lanka on Thursday as international pressure mounted on Colombo to contain anti-Muslim riots that killed one man in a backlash against the Easter terror attacks.

Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said there were no incidents of violence in the 24 hours ending Thursday morning, but security forces continued to carry out search operations.

Police said they had detained at least 112 suspects by Wednesday evening and more arrests were being carried out to ensure there was no repetition of the riots that saw Muslim homes, businesses and mosques attacked. A night curfew in North-Western Province (NWP), which has seen the worst of the anti-Muslim backlash after the suicide bombings on April 21, was relaxed on Thursday morning.

But some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP.

Meanwhile, Colombo-based ambassadors of European nations expressed concern over the communal violence.

“We welcome the arrests made in connection with the violence, and call on the government to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that the law is applied equally to all instigators and perpetrators of communal violence,” a joint statement by the diplomats said.

They urged the government to take measures to reassure all citizens that it will protect and uphold their safety and their rights.

A shopkeeper in Minuwangoda, one of the worst affected towns just north of Colombo, said roads were reopened on Thursday amid a heavy military and police presence.

“I normally have about 30 customers in the morning, but today there were just three,” the electronic goods seller told AFP by telephone. “Banks have opened, but it will take a few weeks before we get back to our normal routine.”

There were similar reports from other riot-scarred towns.

The Easter attacks claimed 258 lives and were blamed on a local extremist group which pledged allegiance to the Daesh.

Muslims in Sri Lanka have been bracing for revenge attacks after the terrorists hit three churches and three luxury hotels.

A state of emergency has been in place since the suicide bombings and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects.

Sri Lanka has also blocked access to social media platforms to prevent what it called the spread of rumors that incited violence.


Pakistan PM Khan speaks with India’s Modi to congratulate him on election win

Updated 26 May 2019
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Pakistan PM Khan speaks with India’s Modi to congratulate him on election win

  • Modi shocked many with his decisive victory in this election
  • Tensions have flared between the two countries earlier this year

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday spoke to Narendra Modi and congratulated the Indian leader on the runaway election victory of his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), both countries said on Sunday.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi today and congratulated him on his party’s electoral victory in the Lok Sabha elections in India,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“The Prime Minister expressed his desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their peoples.”
Tensions between India and Pakistan, both nuclear-armed countries, flared in February with cross-border air strikes and a brief battle between fighter jets above Kashmir.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed Khan had called Modi on Sunday, adding the two leaders had discussed fighting poverty together.
“He (Modi) stressed that creating trust and an environment free of violence and terrorism were essential for fostering cooperation for peace, progress and prosperity in our region,” the ministry added in a statement.