Sinhala-Muslim tension mounts

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 10 February 1999, 09:56 GMT]
The tension between Sinhalese and Muslims continued to mount in the Pannala, in the Kurunagala district about 100 kilometres northwest of Colombo, despite the declaration of curfew in the general area last evening. Shops and houses of Muslims in Pannala were ransacked and set on fire by Sinhala mobs from Monday.

Muslims were also beaten up in nearby areas such as Yakkala and Bopitiya. A Muslim bridegroom was abducted and severely assaulted said Police sources.

"The Police at Pannala were standing idly by while the Sinhala mobs went about ransacking and burning their shops and houses, said senior spokesman of the Sri Muslim Congress in Colombo today.

He said that the Police (mostly Sinhalese) had even refusing to take complaints from the affected Muslims.

"The matter has been brought to the notice of the Inspector General of Police he added. Following strong protests that the Pannala Police was not doing anything to curb the violence against the Muslims, Police units from other areas were sent in. Tear gas had to be used to control the violent Sinhala crowds.

An Sinhala mob of more than 600, angered by such attempts to bring the situation under control, had gone to the Pannala Police station yesterday and pelted the place with stones, one of which had hit the inspector on duty Somaweera Yapa, who was seriously wounded. The Police had opened fire on the

mob, wounding two.



The problem took a new turn today as one of these died in hospital. Deputy Minister for Posts, Telecommunications and Media has called for an immediate inquiry into the death, charging that the person who died is a PA supporter.

"The deputy minister's statement clearly shows that PA supporters are involved in the violence against the Muslims, said a political analyst in Colombo who has been monitoring the situation.


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