Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency for 10 days to maintain law and order in the state, a government spokesman said on Tuesday, a day after Buddhists and Muslims clashed in the Indian Ocean island's central district of Kandy.
Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites.
Renewed tension has been growing between the two communities since last year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalizing Buddhist archaeological sites.
Some Buddhist nationalist has 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.
"At a special cabinet meeting, it was decided to declare a state of emergency for 10 days to prevent the spread of communal riots to other parts of the country," the spokesman, Dayasiri Jayasekara, told Reuters.
Police said on Monday there had been riots and arson attacks since the weekend in Kandy district, while sources told Al Jazeera the violence was spreading throughout the South Asian island nation.
In the past, religious and ethnic violence had turned deadly in Sri Lanka, where Muslims account for 10 percent of the 21 million population, and Buddhists Sinhalese make up nearly 75 percent. Another 13 percent of the population are Hindus.