Sri Lanka again blocks social media amid communal unrest

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.

You may also like these

Bangladeshi newspaper editors protest digital...

Oct 13, 2018

An influential body of newspaper editors in Bangladesh has criticized the government for a new...

2 killed while protesting evictions near Indian...

Sep 19, 2016

Two people were killed and several others were injured as police tried to stop protests against the...

Indian police detain 6 for New Year's Eve...

Jan 4, 2017

Police have detained at least six suspects days after outrage erupted in India over several women...

UN officials urge India to lift social media ban...

May 11, 2017

Two United Nations experts are urging the Indian government to lift ban on social media sites and...

Controversial IVF doctor gives hope to older...

May 25, 2017

Scores of women in India give birth at advanced ages with the help of a controversial doctor who...

Search
Broaden News

Sign up now!

Recent Discovery will take you to the captivating developments in science, technology, and the universe around us. We deliver to you the latest news, theories, and developments in the world of science.

Contact us: sales[at]recentdiscovery.com