Second night of curfew as Sri Lanka's anti-Muslim rioting spreads

Sri Lanka imposes curfew after mobs target mosques

"It is no heroism in attacking Muslims and damaging their property - true heroism is to control and overcome oneself", Ranjith said.

"When Muslims tried to prevent the attack, we were asked by police to go inside", the official said.

Police said there were sporadic incidents of mobs throwing stones and torching shops, motorcycles and cars owned by Muslims.

Police will take stern action against rioters and constables have been issued with orders to use maximum force, Police Chief Chandana Wickramaratne warned in a televised address after rampaging mobs set fire to Muslim-owned shops and vehicles.

Authorities said the situation in the worst-affected northwestern parts of the Indian Ocean island nation was under control after anti-Muslim mobs appeared to have moved from town to town starting on Sunday.

"Several shops have been attacked", a senior police officer told Agence France-Presse.

Homes and mosques were also vandalised by large groups of people armed with sticks and blunt weapons, police said. "There are people trying to make political capital out of this situation".

The government also reimposed a ban on social media following the violent clashes.

"I appeal to all citizens to remain calm and not be swayed by false information", Wickremesinghe said on Twitter, which was not targeted in the social media blockade.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, which were carried out by a local radicalised Muslim group.

In the adjoining district of Gampaha, mobs smashed Muslim-owned restaurants and at least one garment factory, official sources and residents said.

In Christian-majority Chilaw, people reportedly threw rocks at mosques and beat up a man after a shopkeeper wrote "Don't laugh more, 1 day u will cry" in a Facebook post that Christians deemed as a threat of a new attack.

The witness said the crowd then surged into the mosque and ransacked it.

Police have blamed local Islamists for the Easter Sunday bombings and dozens of arrests have been made in the weeks since. Amid the heightened security, students are only allowed into schools after checks for explosives.

Public schools completed their reopening after extended Easter holidays, but attendance was extremely low, according to education authorities.

As per the charge sheet filed by the NIA, Mirza, in 2017, had a WhatsApp chat with Aadhil, who is believed to be the same person involved in the Sri Lanka serial blasts, in which more than 250 people were killed.

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