Sri Lanka steps up security ahead of Friday prayers

Visiting UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman had talks in Colombo today with the Government

Sri Lanka watchers have noted the way violence erupted in the central and eastern parts of the country nearly simultaneously and the use of messaging apps to spread rumours, giving rise to suspicions that it was pre-planned. The majority are Sinhalese, a largely Buddhist ethnic group.

Suspects can be detained for long periods under the state of emergency.

In Weligama, 240 kilometres south of Kandy, a Muslim-owned business was attacked, police said, while Muslim establishments were pelted with stones in at least two other locations outside Kandy.

The committee will also recommend steps that need to be taken to prevent such incidents in the future, and look into the conduct of relevant authorities in controlling the situation and their accountability, the report said, adding that the retired judges will be named later.

Authorities have also blocked internet access across the district and disrupted Facebook and messaging platforms after police said they were used to instigate racial violence.

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The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) said the decision to continue the suspension was made at the request of the Ministry of Defence.

Following a visit to Kandy on Saturday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government will pay full compensations for property damaged in the attacks.

Military officials said more reinforcements were sent to the area on Wednesday night to assist police who resorted to teargas to disperse rioters the previous evening.

A curfew was lifted in the central district of Kandy, the epicentre of the violence, but soldiers remain on the streets, equipped with emergency powers to detain people to maintain law and order.

There have been several communal clashes in recent years in Sri Lanka.

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The chief custodian of the UNESCO-listed temple, Pradeep Nilanga Dela, said foreign tourists and pilgrims were flocking to the shrine despite the tensions.

Violent attacks against Muslims swept the central district of Kandy over the last week. Muslims make up 10 per cent of the population.

"There is some fear among Muslims that they could be targeted ..."

"Anamaduwe Muslim restaurant was attacked at 4 am (local time) this morning", the Colombo Telegraph reported.

In June 2014 riots between Buddhists, led by radical monks, and Muslims left four dead.

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