COLOMBO, June 28, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s police arrested key suspects involved in fuelling religious riots and looting, an official said Saturday as minority Muslims expressed fears of more unrest ahead of Ramadan. Muslims as well as a majority of moderate Buddhists have pressed for action against the Buddhist Force, or BBS, which is seen as enjoying patronage of senior government figures. Police said a total of eight people directly linked to the June 15 anti-Muslim riots were arrested this week and recovered gems and jewellery looted from two shops that were targeted during the violence.
“With the help of CCTV footage and the recently established (police) intelligence network we arrested the suspects along with the stolen goods,” senior superintendent Athula Weerasinghe said.
The violence which erupted in the coastal resort of Alutgama spilled over into the neighbouring international tourist resorts of Beruwala and Bentota.
Weerasinghe said jewellery worth more than 1.5 million rupees ($11,500) looted from two jewellery shops in Bentota was recovered.
Official estimates the riot damage at 200 million rupees. Four people were killed and 80 wounded in the worst religious riots in recent decades.