Colombo, May 6 (IANS): The Sri Lankan police arrested two people after mobs attacked Muslim-owned shops and vandalized vehicles in Negombo, the site of one of the Easter Sunday bombings.
According to reports, a clash broke out between Sinhalese and Muslims in Negombo on Sunday. The fighting began over a personal dispute and later mobs stoned Muslim-owned shops and vandalized vehicles.
The Daily Mirror reported that a heated argument between two parties over an accident involving two motorcycles and a trishaw on Poruthota Road along the Negombo coastal stretch in Kochchikade on Sunday evening, developed into a clash.
A police officer said two arrests were made at Poruthota in connection with the incident and more suspects had been identified through CCTV footage.
The police said a house was also damaged during the violence in Negombo, one of the targets of the April 21 attacks in which over 250 people were killed and hundreds injured.
Authorities on Sunday night blocked social media platforms following the violence to stop the circulation of videos and images related to the Negombo incident. The block was lifted early Monday, the Daily Mirror reported.
A curfew was also imposed late Sunday which was lifted on Monday.
Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said on Sunday that several people were injured in clashes.
“I appeal to all Catholic and Christian brothers and sisters not to hurt even a single Muslim person because they are our brothers, because they are part of our religious culture,” said Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo.
“Therefore please avoid hurting them and try to create a better spirit of understanding and good relations between all the communities of Sri Lanka,” he said in a video message to the island country.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a statement that the government will compensate those who lost property in the night-time clashes.
The police also said that the Easter Sunday attackers had assets worth over 7 billion Sri Lankan rupees in their possession, the Colombo Gazette reported.
Police media spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) had found that the group had over 140 million Sri Lankan rupees in cash.
Gunasekera said steps were being taken to seize all the assets and that there were 54 suspects related to the bombings in the custody of the CID and among them were seven women.