Sri Lanka imposes curfew, blocks social media amid violence

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Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the suicide bombings.

Unlike after the Negombo clashes, the Sri Lankan government did not impose a ban on social media platforms on Sunday.

Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a local man was beaten in the town of Chilaw on Sri Lanka's west coast on Sunday in a dispute that started on Facebook, sources told Reuters. It was later extended to the entire North Western Province as violence continued to spread.

"When Muslims tried to prevent the attack, we were asked by police to go inside", the official said. "The attacks allegedly occurred while the government had imposed a curfew".

Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe urged the public not to believe rumours and warned that civil unrest will stretch the already thinly deployed security forces.

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Sri Lanka's police say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings but that the threat of global terrorism persists.

A 34-year-old man who was at the mosque said about 150 to 200 people came toward the mosque with rods and swords on Sunday, but the Muslims who were in the mosque persuaded them to go away with the help of the police.

The attacks consisted nearly exclusively of vandalism: broken windows, damaged bicycles parked outside one of the mosques, and Qurans left strewn on the ground in some mosques, an act of disrespects that in some Muslim-majority countries would trigger prosecution.

There were 200 Muslim religious preachers (Maulvis) among the ones deported, the media report said.

The suspect had been organising pilgrimage tours to Mecca, the paper reported.

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The blockade of Facebook and WhatsApp has been imposed form midnight following violent incidents between the minority Muslim and majority Sinhalese communities, officials said.

Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in the northwestern town of Chilaw on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper, police said. Buddhist monks called for the investigation of a local mosque in one instance shortly before the attacks.

"Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country", Nalaka Kaluwewa, the director general of the Department of Government Information said.

- NetBlocks.org (@netblocks) May 13, 2019As per the directive issued by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, IMO, Snapchat, Instagram & YouTube would be restricted with immediate effect until further notice.

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