June 15, Aluthgama: Sri Lanka police declared curfew in Sri Lanka's southern coastal town of Aluthgama today after simmering tensions between the Buddhist extremists and Muslims escalated into clashes.
Police media spokesman SSP Ajith Rohana requested the people in the area not to move on thoroughfares and other streets, and warned that actions would be taken under chapter 10 of the code of criminal procedures, against violators.
The Spokesman urged the people to remain calm and not to disrupt the peace in the country.
The coastal town has been on the edge for the last three days after a Muslim youth manhandled a Buddhist monk and his driver on the Poson Poya Day. The police arrested three suspects over the incident.
The Buddhist extremist group Bodu Bala Sena held a rally earlier today in Aluthgama and arrived in the Muslims dominated Dharga Town in a vehicle convoy. The group was planning to demonstrate across the town to the temple of the monk who was assaulted three days ago.
The Muslims in the town have reportedly pelted stones at the BBS convoy and the BBS in retaliation has pelted stones at the Muslims triggering a communal clash between the Sinhalese and Muslims in the town.
The clash has injured a large number of people, according to local media reports. Reports say that two shops and a van were set fire in Dharga Town.
The police used tear gas to disperse the crowds but failed to prevent the clashes until the Special Task Force (STF) arrived at the scene and used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
When our reporter visited the area in the evening today, police and Special Task Force were guarding the Muslim town. Muslim shops in Dharga town were closed and a large number of people had gathered in the mosque. The gates of the mosque were locked and the police were guarding the main road in the town.
Buddhists had decorated the road to the temple of the attacked monk at a corner of the town with Buddhist flags.