Muslims in Riot-hit Sri Lanka Attend Friday Prayers Amid Tight Security
Colombo: Sri Lanka's minority Muslim in riot-hit areas attended Friday prayers amid tight security at mosques vandalised in mob attacks in the aftermath of the deadly Easter Sunday bombings.
Anti-Muslim riots have killed one person and caused extensive damage to homes, businesses and mosques in the island nation this week.
"We conducted prayers as usual," said Mohamed Jaleel, a resident of Kottampitiya town in the north-western province.
He said the community members offered prayers at smaller mosques, which were not as badly damaged as the bigger mosques in the mob attacks.
"A Buddhist monk and a Catholic priest also came to the mosque to express their solidarity with us (Muslims)," said Irshad Hameed, a resident of Minuwangoda, one of the worst-affected areas.
"The damage was more extensive in some of the bigger mosques and it was not possible to conduct prayers in them," he said.
The communal violence is a fresh backlash from the Easter Sunday attacks where nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels, killing 258 people and injuring over 500 others.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but the government has blamed a local Islamist extremist group, the National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ), for the bombings.
The mob attacks forced a nationwide curfew for three nights and a temporary blockade on social media platforms. The ban on social media platforms was lifted this evening, while the nationwide curfew was lifted on Thursday.
"Peace has been restored in all parts of the island," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
The Sri Lankan police have said over 70 people have been arrested for attacking the Muslims.