Sri Lanka’s police arrested over 100 suspects and re-imposed night curfews in violence-prone areas yesterday after anti-Muslim riots left one man dead and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and mosques.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said 78 people arrested in the worst-affected North-Western Province (NWP) were remanded in custody yesterday, while the rest were detained after a manhunt in other areas.
Some 5,500 additional police were deployed in NWP to contain the violence that claimed the life of a Muslim man on Monday. Scores of private homes, Muslim-owned shops and businesses were destroyed, while several mosques were also vandalised.
Muslims in Sri Lanka have been bracing for revenge attacks since three churches and three luxury hotels were bombed by local Islamist extremists on April 21, killing 258 people.
Gunasekera said a night curfew was being re-imposed in NWP, just north of the capital, as well as the adjoining Gampaha district, which shares a border with Colombo, as a measure to “maintain peace”.
However, a top police source said there will be no curfews elsewhere in the country. The entire country was under night curfews for two straight days after the violence escalated.
The night curfew on Tuesday ensured there was no repeat of Monday’s violence against Muslims, who make up some 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million.
“The situation is now totally under control,” said military spokesman Sumith Atapattu.
“There were no incidents of violence overnight and we are arresting groups of people responsible for taking part in mob attacks.”
Official sources said police deployed special teams to review CCTV camera footage to identify the perpetrators and carry out more arrests.
More police and army units were seen deployed in the troubled areas as the authorities lifted the nationwide curfew yesterday morning.