Sri Lanka violence: 19 held amid Buddhist-Muslim street clashes

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Riot police and army troops have been deployed in southern Sri Lanka following an outbreak of violence between Buddhists and Muslims.

Nineteen people were arrested when clashes erupted in Galle province, with homes and businesses attacked and several properties damaged.

It is not clear what sparked the violence, but reports suggest a traffic accident may have been the cause.

Authorities say the sectarian violence has now been brought under control.

“Additional police battalions, the police Special Task Force, the anti-riot squad and the military were called in last night to bring the situation under control,” Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka said in a statement.

Mr Ratnayaka also warned people not to stir up sectarian hatred on social media.

Image caption A damaged motorbike is discarded in the street following the violence Image caption Several properties in Galle province were vandalised

Some reports suggest the outbreak of street violence between majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Muslims may have started after an incident involving a Muslim woman and a motorbike driven by a Buddhist man.

But there are also reports that the clashes followed the spreading of rumours on social media involving a land dispute.

Similar clashes in a nearby area three years ago forced thousands of Muslims to flee their homes.




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