Mobs torched Muslim-owned businesses in a central Sri Lanka district yesterday as hundreds of police and troops struggled to restore order after days of rioting.
The soldiers poured into Kandy to reinforce police but arson attacks persisted even though the government has imposed a nationwide state of emergency and suspended the internet locally to quell attacks by mobs from the majority Sinhalese community.
An evening curfew was extended till Thursday evening in the troubled hill district popular with tourists, officials said.
Telecommunication providers were instructed to block Facebook nationwide and suspend internet services in the district after police warned that rioters were using social media to urge violence against Muslims.
Schools were shut across Kandy, a hill resort famed for its tea and Buddhist relics, as rioters defied curfews and clashed with police who used tear gas to disperse them.
Lankan Parliament Tuesday issued an apology to the Muslim minority for the violence.
The United Nations condemned the violence and urged Colombo "to ensure that appropriate measures are swiftly taken to restore normalcy in affected areas".
More than 150 homes, shops and vehicles belonging to Muslims were set ablaze by mobs of Sinhalese rioters Monday and Tuesday.
The violence began after a man from the mainly Buddhist Sinhalese majority died at the hands of a Muslim mob last week. The trouble escalated when a Muslim man was found dead in a burned building on Tuesday.
The Sinhalese are the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka, making up 75 percent of its 21 million people. Muslims make up 10 percent.