Sri Lanka again blocks social media amid communal unrest

FILE- In this March 7, 2018 file photo, a blocked Facebook window is seen on a smart phone screen in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka's government has temporarily blocked social media and messaging apps following a flare-up of communal violence, the third time it has taken such a step since last month's Easter attacks that killed more than 250 people, an official said Monday. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, File)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka's government has temporarily blocked social media and messaging apps following a flare-up of communal violence, the third time it has taken such a step since last month's Easter attacks that killed more than 250 people, an official said Monday.

The government acted after an exchange of accusations between two people on Facebook led a mob to attack a Muslim-owned shop Sunday in the Catholic-majority town of Chilaw, said Nalaka Kaluwewa, the chief of the Information Department. Police imposed a curfew in the town, located about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Colombo, the capital, following the violence but lifted it Monday morning.

Kaluwewa said the government temporarily blocked social media in order "to prevent misinformation from being circulated and also to prevent spreading of information that would harm communal harmony."

Previous blocks on social media and messaging apps imposed following the April 21 suicide attacks on churches and hotels were lifted after several days.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said police have arrested a 38-year-old Muslim businessman, Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, for allegedly writing the Facebook comments that sparked the violence.

Local media reported that residents in the area angered by the comments stoned Hasmar's shop.

Tensions have been running high in the Buddhist-majority Indian Ocean island nation since the attacks by seven suicide bombers who struck two Catholic and one Protestant church and three luxury hotels. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, carried out by a local radicalized Muslim group.

Since then, the government has intensified security across the country, with armed policemen and troops being deployed to protect schools, churches and key government offices.

On Sunday, the Catholic Church held the first regular Sunday Mass since the attacks amid tight security. Sunday services had been canceled the two previous weekends for fear of more attacks, leaving the faithful to hear Mass via live TV transmission from the residence of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, the archbishop of Colombo.

People also read these

Afghan bomber kills 19, Taliban rejects...

Jun 17, 2018

A suicide bomber has struck in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad, killing at least 19 people...

Candidate: Elections key to countering Afghan...

Oct 18, 2018

Afghan woman candidate: Saturday's elections key to countering conservatism that stifles...

Afghans mourn former president at palace ceremony

Feb 13, 2019

Afghans are mourning the country's first post-communist president, Sibghatullah Mujadidi, at a...

Islamic State group claims Kabul attack on Shiite...

Mar 22, 2019

Islamic State group claims bombings near Shiite shrine, cemetery in Afghan capital that killed 6...

Animal sacrifices turn Dhaka streets into rivers...

Sep 14, 2016

Large-scale animal sacrifices marking the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha combined with heavy rains...

About Us

Get all the up-to-date breaking news about politics, business, entertainment, sports, lifestyles, weather, traffic, and local news in a seamless digital environment only in Morning Dispatcher.

Subscribe Now!

Quick Links

HomePress