ALUTGAMA, June 16, 2014 (AFP) – Clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in southern Sri Lanka has left three people dead and at least 78 others seriously wounded, the justice minister said Monday. Police fired teargas and imposed a curfew but were unable to prevent several dozen shops and homes being attacked.
Both areas are popular beach resorts frequented by international tourists, but there were no reports of any foreigners or hotels being caught up in the violence.
The attacks are the latest in a series of religious clashes to hit the island following unrest in January and also last year.
Muslim legislators have asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to protect their minority community from “Buddhist extremist elements” blamed for the hate attacks.
Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million population.
Nationalist Buddhist groups have in turn accused religious minorities of wielding undue political and economic influence on the island. Police have imposed a curfew after rampaging Buddhist mobs late Sunday razed a number of Muslim-owned homes and businesses in the popular tourist town of Alutgama, around 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of the capital Colombo.