Sri Lankan police arrested 19 people after a clash between “extremists” from the majority Buddhist and minority Muslim communities in which four people were injured, a spokesman said on Saturday. Tension has been growing between the two communities this year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.
Some Buddhists nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of asylum seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. Police said the late Friday violence in the coastal town of Ginthota was triggered by rumours and fake messages. “This was a clash between a small fraction of extremists in the both ethnic groups,” said police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera. One of those arrested was a woman who falsely spread news that Muslims were about to attack a Buddhist temple, he said. Buddhists make up about 70 % of Sri Lanka’s population with about 9 %for Muslims.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s government, after came under fire from rights groups and diplomats for not doing enough to crack down on hardline, acted against anti-Muslim attackers in June this year. Reuters