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Social media blocked again in Sri Lanka as worst unrest erupts since Easter bombings

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Colombo: Sri Lanka reimposed a ban on social media yesterday as religious tension flared up after an intimidating Facebook post triggered attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses in the worst unrest since Easter Sunday bombings which killed nearly 260 people.

The blockade comes a day after Sri Lankan police imposed curfew in the country's western coastal town of Chilaw where a mob attacked a mosque and some shops owned by Muslims in a dispute that started on a Facebook post by a Muslim shop owner.

The author of the Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, wrote: "Don't laugh more, 1 day u will cry". The Muslim shopkeeper's comment was taken by local Christians as a warning of an impending attack.

The blockade of Facebook and WhatsApp has been imposed form midnight following violent incidents between the minority Muslim and majority Sinhalese communities, officials said.

Late in the evening on Sunday, the unrest spread to Kuliyapitiya where a mosque and a few Muslim owned shops came under attack, prompting the authorities to impose  curfew in the northwest town.

"The curfew imposed in Kuliyapitya and Chilaw has been lifted," police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

The majority nationalist groups have been active on Facebook, reviving calls for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses and spreading hate.

The violence is a direct fallout from the Eastern Sunday's suicide bombings.

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