In a clash between the majority Sinhalese Buddhists and the minority Muslims in eastern Sri Lanka, at least five people were injured and various shops and a mosque were damaged, said the police on Tuesday.
Spokesperson Ruwan Gunasekara said that after a Sinhalese mob attacked a mosque, four shops and numerous vehicles in the eastern town of Ampara late on Monday, police had been deployed to curb the tensions. He also added that no arrests had been made so far.
Discord has been growing between the two communities since last year, after some hardline Buddhist groups alleged the Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.
After more than 20 attacks on Muslims, including arson at Muslim-owned businesses and mosques, diplomats condemned violence against the minority group and urged the government to uphold their rights and freedom of religion.
The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL), an umbrella body that includes most Muslim organisations in the country, condemned the attack and requested the government to order for an impartial inquiry into it and arrest the perpetrators.
“The government has the sole responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all its citizens irrespective of religious belief, caste or ethnicity,” the Council said in a statement.
“This form of mob violence is continuing to grow and Muslim business establishments are targeted.”
Although President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe have promised to protect the minorities, the attacks against Muslims have not stopped.
Muslims comprise about nine percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 21 million, while Buddhists make up about 70 percent and Hindus 13 percent.
Last year, the United Nations criticised Sri Lanka for slow progress in addressing war crimes and human rights violations. They have accused the Sri Lankan military of killing thousands of civilians, mostly Tamils, in the last weeks of the full-blown 26-year civil war, defeating mostly Hindu Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.