Updated: 06/16/2014 14:39 | By Agence France-Presse

Three killed in Sri Lanka religious riots

Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lanka have left three people dead and at least 78 others seriously wounded, the justice minister said on Monday.


Three killed in Sri Lanka religious riots

Sri Lankan police block a road in Colombo on December 11, 2013 - by Ishara S.Kodikara

Police have imposed a curfew after rampaging Buddhist mobs late Sunday razed a number of Muslim-owned homes and businesses in the popular tourist town of Alutgama, around 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of the capital Colombo.

"Three deaths have occurred," Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem told reporters in Alutgama, blaming hardline Buddhist mobs for the violence.

Hakeem, who represents the minority Muslim community in the cabinet, made the comments as he inspected the damage from the violence.

Authorities said the curfew would stay in place for a second night running in Alutgama and the neighbouring resort of Beruwala, a predominantly Muslim region. 

Hakeem said he was under pressure from his own supporters to quit the government to protest the failure of police to prevent the rioting.

Local Muslims have accused the police of failing to protect them when followers of the extremist Buddhist Force -- better known as BBS -- started setting fire to businesses on Sunday evening.

Police fired teargas and imposed a curfew but were unable to prevent several dozen shops and homes being attacked.

Both areas are popular beach resorts frequented by international tourists, but there were no reports of any foreigners or hotels being caught up in the violence.

The attacks are the latest in a series of religious clashes to hit the island following unrest in January and also last year.

Muslim legislators have asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to protect their minority community from "Buddhist extremist elements" blamed for the hate attacks.

Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population.

Nationalist Buddhist groups have in turn accused religious minorities of wielding undue political and economic influence on the island.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。