Vandals attack Muslim-owned restaurant in Sri Lanka

WION Web Team Colombo, Sri Lanka Mar 11, 2018, 11.33 AM(IST)

Sri Lankan army patrol on the streets of Katugastota, a suburb of Kandy on March 8. Photograph:( AFP )

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The restaurant in Anamaduwa -- 130 kilometres north of the capital Colombo -- was targeted despite police being on high alert after a series of anti-Muslim attacks

In an alleged case of "hate crime", police said vandals attacked a Muslim-owned restaurant in Sri Lanka on Sunday.

The restaurant in Anamaduwa -- 130 kilometres north of the capital Colombo -- was targeted despite police being on high alert after a series of anti-Muslim attacks.

A senior police official said disciplinary action would be taken against officers in the Anamaduwa area for failing to prevent the restaurant attack.

"We are treating this as a hate crime. An investigation is on to identify those responsible," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Tensions remain high on the island country following a week of violent riots that left at least three people dead and around 20 injured.

Last week, the government declared a state of emergency as 11 mosques were torched and 200 Muslim-owned businesses destroyed in riots by Sinhalese mobs.

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

Some social media networks including Facebook remain blocked across Sri Lanka. Officials say this was done to prevent the spread of hate speech against Muslims.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced Saturday that he will appoint a three-member panel of retired judges to investigate the unrest that drew concern from rights groups and the international community.

Hundreds of Buddhist monks and activists staged demonstrations in Colombo on Friday, denouncing violence and urging authorities to punish those responsible.

Nearly 150 people were arrested over the violence, police said, including the suspected leader Amith Weerasinghe, a Sinhalese  known for anti-Muslim activism and outspoken social media posts.

(With inputs from AFP)