COLOMBO — Sri Lanka has declared a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday after anti-Muslim riots left two people dead and more than 100 homes and shops ablaze in the popular hill resort of Kandy, a central district famed for its tea plantations and Buddhist relics.
Sri Lanka’s President has declared a state of emergency for 10 days to rein in the spread of communal violence after clashes erupted between majority Buddhists and members of the minority Muslim community.
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.
A tweet from the office of President Maithripala Sirisena said the decree would “redress the unsatisfactory security situation prevailing in certain parts of the country”.
It said the country’s security forces “have been suitably empowered to deal with criminal elements in the society and urgently restore normalcy.”
Armed forces were deployed to bolster security in addition to a unit of elite police commandos who were sent in to restore order after rioters defied an overnight curfew and went on the rampage.
The unrest in the Indian Ocean island’s central district of Kandy began on Sunday after the funeral of a truck driver from the majority Sinhalese Buddhist community, who died days after he was involved in an altercation with four Muslims, the Government said.
Buddhist mobs swept through towns, burning at least 11 Muslim-owned shops and homes. Police fired tear gas into the crowds, and later announced a curfew.
These areas remained under curfew on Tuesday, with soldiers and police patrolling the streets and no-one allowed outside.
44 dead as ferry capsizes in Tanzania
TANZANIA — At least 44 people were killed after a passenger ferry carrying hundreds of people capsized on Lake Victoria in Tanzania, official said late Thursday.
Thirty-seven people were rescued after the sinking Thursday afternoon, Mwanza regional commissioner John Mongella told The Associated Press.
The death toll was expected to rise when rescue efforts resumed at daybreak.
According to local media, the exact number of those on board was not known as the boat was believed to be carrying people beyond the stipulated capacity. The ferry was thought to be carrying between 400 to 500 people.
The ferry overturned between the two islands in Lake Victoria, which is the largest lake in Africa, passing through Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
Emergency response teams pulled 37 people out of the water during rescue operations, which was stopped due to poor visibility.
Regional Commissioner John Mongella told local Tanzania television channel ITV that the rescue operations would resume in the morning.
The Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency, in charge of servicing the vessels, urged patience in a statement as rescue efforts began.
The ferry was traveling between Ukara and Bugolora and capsized near the area of Mwanza, the agency said.
Accidents are often reported on the large freshwater lake surrounded by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.Follow @gorkhapost