A 45-year-old Muslim man died of stab wounds after a mob attacked his business during anti-Muslim attacks in Puttalam district of Sri Lanka on Monday, AFP reported, quoting the police. “Mobs had attacked him with sharp weapons at his carpentry workshop,” said an unidentified police official. “This is the first death from the riots.”
The death comes hours after the Sri Lankan government imposed a nationwide night curfew. Since Sunday, violence against Muslims has been on the upsurge. Several mosques and Muslim households have been attacked. This comes weeks after the Easter Sunday bombings in the island nation.
In a televised address, police chief Chandana Wickramaratne said constables have been asked to use maximum force against rioters. Homes and mosques were vandalised by people armed with sticks and other weapons. The police had to fire in the air and use tear gas to disperse rioters in several towns, reported BBC.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe asked people to remain calm. He said the current unrest was hampering the investigation into the Easter attacks. “I appeal to all citizens to remain calm and not be swayed by false information,” he tweeted. “Security forces are working tirelessly to apprehend terrorists and ensure the security of the country.”
Earlier on Monday, the government temporarily blocked some social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, after a mosque was attacked in Chilaw town. A 38-year-old Muslim businessman, identified as the author of the Facebook post that sparked the violence, was arrested, according to BBC.
Muslims account for almost 10% of the nation’s 22 million people, who predominantly comprise Sinhalese Buddhists.
A group of suicide bombers had carried out a series of blasts at churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21, killing at least 253 people. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks. Two other local Islamist groups – the National Thowheed Jamath and the Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim – are suspected to have links to the blasts. They have now been banned.