Lankan Techie, Under Indian Surveillance, Key In Bombings

Sri Lanka

A Muslim man was slashed to death in Sri Lanka Monday, police said after imposing a nationwide curfew to contain a violent new backlash against Easter suicide bombings.

Soldiers began patrolling areas hit by the mob violence after police arrested 23 people from across Sri Lanka who allegedly perpetrated the assaults.

Authorities said the situation in the worst-affected northwestern parts of the Indian Ocean island nation was under control after anti-Muslim mobs appeared to have moved from town to town starting on Sunday.

The attacks came during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was beaten in the Christian-majority town of Chilaw on the west coast on Sunday in the dispute that started on Facebook, police sources and residents told Reuters.

Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's population and Christians about 7.6 per cent.

"The navigation of any unmanned aircraft or drone in or over the territory of Sri Lanka by any person other than a member of Triforces or police is prohibited until further notice", another Gazette notification said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a statement that acts of sabotage were hampering an investigation by security forces and warned that "if the racism rises up ... and peace is disturbed the country will be destabilized". Homes and mosques were also vandalised by large groups of people armed with sticks and weapons.

Officials have blocked some social media platforms and messaging apps, including Facebook and Whatsapp, in an attempt to curb the violence.

"I appeal to all citizens to remain calm and not be swayed by false information", Wickremesinghe said on Twitter, which was left functioning amid the social media blockade.

Rioting there, north of the capital Colombo, saw police fire bullets into the air to disperse mobs marauding through several towns.

Police have blamed two local Islamist groups for the Easter Sunday bombings.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out by radicalised local Muslims.

Public schools completed their reopening after extended Easter holidays, but attendance was extremely low, according to education authorities.

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