Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena said yesterday he had lifted a nationwide state of emergency imposed on March 6 after anti-Muslim rioting.
"Upon assessing the public safety situation, I instructed to revoke the State of Emergency from midnight yesterday," Sirisena said on his Twitter feed, as reported by Reuters. He declared a state of emergency to rein in the spread of communal violence after Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the Indian Ocean island's central district of Kandy. It was the first time in seven years Sri Lanka has resorted to such a measure. The island nation was under a state of emergency for nearly three decades as government forces battled Tamil rebels in a civil war that ended in 2009.
Two people were killed and hundreds of Muslim-owned properties and more than 20 mosques were damaged, media reported. Police said two dozen people had been arrested in the wake of the riots. The emergency measures, imposed for the first time since 2011, give authorities sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods and deploy forces where needed.
President Maithripala Sirisena said the measures would "redress the unsatisfactory security situation prevailing in certain parts of the country."
Sri Lanka's parliament issued an apology to its Muslim minority, which constitutes 10 percent of the country's population of 21 million. Tensions have grown between the two communities over the past year. Some Buddhist nationalists have also protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.
Compiled from wires
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