Sri Lankan soldiers patrol a road of Hettipola, Kottampitiya, Sri Lanka, on Tuesday. Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
Sri Lankan authorities said Wednesday they had the situation "under control" after mosques and Muslim-owned shops and businesses were targeted in a violent backlash after the Easter Sunday terror attacks.
A second overnight curfew imposed nationwide ensured there was no repeat of Monday's violence against Muslims, who make up some 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's population of 21 million.
Many Muslims have been bracing for revenge attacks since three churches and three luxury hotels were bombed by local Islamist extremists on April 21, killing 258 people.
"The situation is now totally under control," said military spokesman Sumith Atapattu.
"There were no incidents of violence overnight and we are arresting groups of people responsible for taking part in mob attacks."
Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesman, said that more than 80 people were in custody as of Tuesday evening.
Official sources said police deployed special teams to review CCTV camera footage to identify the perpetrators of the riots and many arrests were being made on this basis.
More police and army units were seen deployed in the troubled area as the authorities lifted the nationwide curfew on Wednesday morning.
But Muslims in North-West Province remained nervous and stayed indoors Wednesday, after sword-wielding rioters killed one man late Monday while vandalising scores of shops and mosques.
In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M.I.M. Siddeeque said the community was worried.
"The situation is now totally under control. There were no incidents of violence overnight and we are arresting groups of people responsible for taking part in mob attacks.
"Our people are still afraid to go out," he told AFP by telephone.
Military spokesman Atapattu said security forces were arresting small groups of suspected trouble-makers and handing them over to police.
They were being held under emergency laws under which convicts can be jailed up to 10 years, police spokesman Gunasekera said.
Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese community and on bail for his role in similar riots in March last year in the central Kandy district.
Another man arrested was identified as Namal Kumara, a deserter from both the army and the air force for his alleged role in leading mobs.
A Muslim man looks on outside the mosque after a mob attack in Kottampitiya. Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters
Meanwhile, the police also made several changes in the command structure by removing senior officers in the troubled areas after allegations that officials did nothing to stop the rioters.
Parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya condemned the violence and appealed for calm.
"The attacks on mosques, the burning of houses and shops, the attacks on innocent people cannot be condoned in any way," Jayasuriya said in a statement.
"The attacks on mosques, the burning of houses and shops, the attacks on innocent people cannot be condoned in any way.
The attacks came during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.
A state of emergency has been in place since the Easter bombings and security forces have been given sweeping powers to detain suspects.
Internet service providers said the telecoms regulator on Tuesday extended a social media ban to Twitter.
Earlier, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Instagram had been blocked to prevent the spread of messages inciting violence.
"We have received two dead bodies and 28 injured," Dr. Mohammad Waseem in Quetta's Sandeman hospital told AFP
The deadly blasts in churches in Sri Lanka that killed and wounded hundreds on Easter Sunday is a grim reminder that evil minded people are hell bent in instilling fear in the minds of the faithfuls.
I have been travelling to Sri Lanka since 2006. The first time I visited, the Tamil Tigers carried out a suicide attack just a couple of blocks from where I was staying. It seemed that the war between the Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan government would never end. But it did: in 2009 the government launched a brutal attack that ended the war.
Fifty years after a mighty Saturn V rocket set off from Florida carrying the first humans to the Moon, a veteran of the Apollo 11 crew returned to the fabled launch pad Tuesday to commemorate the event that defined an era.
Pakistan’s airspace has been reopened to civil aviation with immediate effect, its aviation authority said on Tuesday, following months of restrictions imposed in the wake of a standoff
A UAE official said on Tuesday that the oil tanker MT RIAH is not owned by the UAE.
Sharjah Police are still searching for an Indian boy, 15, who has been missing from his parents’ home for 13 days now. The boy did not take any of his personal belongings and left home with only Dhs8 of his daily pocket money, according to the boy’s father.