COLOMBO, July 2, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lankan police called in a militant Buddhist monk for questioning Wednesday after he was accused of instigating deadly anti-Muslim riots that heightened religious tensions in the ethnically divided nation. Galagodaatte Gnanasara was summoned to the Criminal Investigations Department over a speech he made two weeks ago in the resort town of Alutgama, where mobs attacked Muslim-owned shops and homes, police said.
“Other speakers who were at the same stage with the monk will also be questioned in due course,” police said in a statement, adding that a total of 117 people had been arrested in connection with the religious riots.
After five hours of questioning the monk was released, police said in a separate statement. They did not say whether authorities would press charges against him.
“I was questioned about the violence and how it started,” Gnanasara told reporters after being released. He said he denied any hand in the violence.
He said the riots broke out after Muslims allegedly attacked a Buddhist monk in the area, a claim already disputed by Muslim leaders.
Four people were killed, 80 wounded and hundreds of shops and homes damaged in the worst religious violence in Buddhist-maj