Channel NewsAsia

Curfew in Sri Lanka town after clashes

Sri Lankan police clamped a curfew on a coastal resort Sunday after Muslims and Buddhists clashed, leaving several wounded and raising tensions.

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police clamped a curfew on a coastal resort Sunday after Muslims and Buddhists clashed, leaving several wounded and raising tensions.

Police also poured hundreds of reinforcements into Alutgama, 60 kilometres south of the capital Colombo, after the two groups attacked each other with stones -- the latest in a series of religious clashes.

A police spokesman said trouble began when a group led by Buddhist monks tried to march in an area where there is a concentration of Muslims.

"The curfew was declared to bring the situation under control," a police officer in the area told reporters. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

Many activists from both sides as well as bystanders were injured during the evening clashes, according to witnesses who also reported seeing several vehicles smashed.

The latest unrest came weeks after Muslim legislators asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to protect their minority community from "Buddhist extremist elements" blamed for a recent spate of attacks.

Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population.

Nationalist Buddhist groups have in turn accused minorities of wielding undue political and economic influence.

Senior Buddhist monks have been caught on video threatening violence against their moderate colleagues who advocate tolerance.

Rajapakse, who is a Buddhist, warned monks in January last year not to incite religious violence.

Tweet Photos, Videos and Update on this Story to  #cna