Buddhist-Muslim violence is said to have started after a group known as the Buddhist Brigade, or BBS, staged a rally, where anti-Muslim slogans were reportedly chanted by the masses.
The Buddhist group’s speech was followed by Muslim rioters reportedly killing three people, wounding dozens, and destroying massive amounts of property.
The Sri Lankan government responded to the violence by imposing a strict curfew on two towns where violence is breaking out. Police quelled the protests by using tear gas. Some say they resorted to gunfire to clear the masses.
The last incendiary activity occurred after a Buddhist rally in Aluthgama. Many reportedly were injured, along with several shops burned and stones thrown at the Buddhist protesters.
There are also reports that the Sri Lankan media has been forbidden from reporting on the outbreak of violence between the two religious groups. Sources told the BBC that the outlets had taken “orders from above”.
Muslims account for roughly 10% of Sri Lanka’s population. Buddhists make up the vast majority of the country.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced an investigation into the matter. “The government will not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands. I urge all parties concerned to act in restraint,” he said on Twitter. The President’s son tweeted, “I ask my Sinhala & Muslim brothers & sisters in Aluthgama to stand together. As Sri Lankans, let’s not forget that we’re all the same & we shouldn’t let other forces create differences between us.”