A Muslim-owned restaurant was attacked in Sri Lanka on Sunday despite a nation-wide police alert against hate crimes after last week’s ethnic riots provoked a state of emergency, officials said.
Attackers smashed the “Madeena Muslim Hotel” restaurant in the north-western town of Anamaduwa, 130 kilometres (81 miles) north of Colombo in the early hours of Sunday, police said adding that they were treating it as a hate crime.
“Police constables had been deployed to guard the area, but it looks like they were not at the location when the attack took place,” a senior police officer said adding that disciplinary action will be taken against those responsible.
The attack came as the authorities lifted curfews in the central hill resort of Kandy, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) south-east of Anamaduwa.
In Kandy itself, the military continued its patrols despite the lifting of a curfew since Saturday.
However, the government maintained a ban on social media sites such as Facebook after police said they were used to spread hate speech and instigate violence against the minority Muslims.
President Maithripala Sirisena announced on Saturday that he will appoint a three-member panel of retired judges to investigate last week’s riots that left three people dead.
The government gave wide powers to police and security forces in line with the state of emergency declared on Tuesday as the unrest escalated.
A Muslim man was found dead in a burnt-out building in Kandy on Tuesday, a day after a Sinhalese man died of injuries sustained in an attack carried out by Muslim men. A Sinhalese man was killed when a hand grenade he carried exploded.
Some 20 others were also wounded and more than 200 Muslim-owned businesses and homes were destroyed in four days of rioting that died down on Thursday in the Kandy district which is a popular tourist destination.
Eleven mosques were also damaged or completely destroyed by Sinhalese mobs, according to police who say the situation in Kandy had been brought under control after a heavy military deployment.
Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority held their Friday prayers under military protection across the island amid fears of fresh attacks. However, the weekly religious activity went off without incident, authorities said.
Hundreds of Buddhist monks and activists staged demonstrations in Colombo on Friday denouncing the anti-Muslim attacks and urging authorities to take strong action against the perpetrators.
Police said nearly 150 people, including the main instigator, have been arrested over last week’s unrest.