SL military says situation under control, 78 arrested
Colombo: The Sri Lanka military on Wednesday said the situation in the country was now “totally under control” and 78 people were arrested after anti-Muslim clashes this week in several areas that left one person dead and dozens of shops and mosques destroyed.
A military official said a high security contingency remained on the ground in the North-Western Province and Gampaha district on the outskirts of Colombo which were affected by the unrest on Monday, but there were no incidents of violence on Tuesday and Wednesday.
However, a curfew was re-imposed in the North Western Province and Gampaha district till 4 a.m. Thursday to prevent further tensions. The nationwide curfew that was in force since Monday night was lifted on Wednesday morning, the Daily Mirror reported.
Police spokesperson S.P. Ruwan Gunasekara said the 78 suspects were detained and remanded in connection with violence in the North-Western Province during which a Muslim man was stabbed to death while over 500 rioters torched Muslim-owned shops, homes and vandalized mosques on Monday.
These people were arrested from Kurunegala, Kuliyapitiya, Nikaweratiya and Chilaw areas.
Gunasekara said investigations were ongoing to apprehend more suspects. “The police are inspecting the video clips… We hope to arrest all the perpetrators soon.”
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, meanwhile, on Wednesday urged all members of political parties to maintain law and order and not to aggravate the already sensitive situation in the Buddhist-majority country.
“The responsibility of protecting all citizens and maintaining law and order by us as leaders is the need of the hour,” he tweeted.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also asked the Ministers not to comment on the investigations into the horrific Easter suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State which left over 250 people dead and hundreds wounded.
“What we require now is not to reveal everything related to the investigations to the media and try scoring points but ensure the investigations are completed swiftly.”
The government has assured the safety of all communities and warned of stern action against anyone spreading hate.
Air Force spokesman Group Captain Gihan Seneviratne said that helicopters would be deployed day and night to assist in controlling illegal assemblies and acts of violence in the country.
“We have already taken measures to obtain aerial photographic evidence of those involved in such (violent) activities and to direct such evidence for legal action against lawbreakers,” he said, adding that helicopters would also be used to airlift troops for rapid response.
Tensions have been running high in Sri Lanka since the Easter Sunday bombers targeted three churches, three luxury hotels and two other locations.