COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities say they have arrested Buddhist extremist leader and nine other suspects in connection with recent anti-Muslim riots in the country.
The police said the arrested Buddhist leader was behind a wave of anti-Muslim attacks by Sinhalese Buddhist hardliners in the country.
Sri Lanka’s Kandy district has been rocked by communal clashes since Sunday following attacks on members of the minority Muslim community by nationalist crowds from the Sinhalese majority.
At least two people have been killed.
Following the attacks, President Maithripala Sirisena declared a state of emergency in Kandy on Wednesday but the violence continued.
Buddhist hardliners attacked mosques and businesses belonging to Muslims overnight.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said all 10 people arrested belonged to hardline Buddhist group.
He named the suspected leader as Amith Jeewan Weerasinghe and said he belonged to a group called Mahason Balakaya.
He said this group had published videos of hate speech directed against Muslims.
Most of Sri Lanka’s Muslims live in the east and centre of the island and make up about 9 percent of its 21 million people. Buddhists make up about 70 percent and ethnic Tamils, most of whom are Hindus, about 13 percent.
Residents in Kandy district said the death of a Buddhist youth had triggered the violence.