Eight key suspects held over recent anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 5:51am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 5:51am


Sri Lanka's police arrested key suspects involved in fuelling religious riots and looting, as minority Muslims expressed fears of more unrest ahead of Ramadan.

Police said eight people directly linked to the June 15 anti-Muslim riots were arrested last week and recovered gems and jewellery looted from two shops targeted during the violence. The violence, which erupted in the coastal resort of Alutgama, spilled over into the neighbouring international tourist resorts of Beruwala and Bentota.

Official estimates put the riot damage at 200 million rupees (HK$11.5 million). Four died and 80 were wounded in the worst religious protests in decades.

Sri Lanka's media and rights groups have accused the police of failing to prevent extremist Buddhist mobs attacking Muslims, who form 10 per cent of the country's 20 million population.

The announcement of the latest arrests came as the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella group of 48 Muslim organisations, petitioned police chief N. K. Illangakoon expressing fears of more violence against their minority community during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.