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Sri Lanka emergency: Government blocks Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp in central hills

The government order came as anti-Muslim rioting flared anew, with Buddhist mobs attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops in at least two towns.

By: AP | Colombo | Updated: March 7, 2018 4:51:56 pm
Sri Lanka emergency: Government orders Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp blocked in central hills A computer screen showing a blocked Facebook window is seen in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Wednesday, March 7, 2018. An internet company official says the government has ordered popular social media networks blocked across a swathe of central Sri Lanka in an attempt to stop the spread of religious violence. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Residents say anti-Muslim rioting has flared anew in central Sri Lanka despite a state of emergency, with Buddhist mobs burning mosques and Muslim-owned shops in at least two towns. The police ordered a curfew across much of the region Wednesday for a third day, trying to calm the situation. An area resident who requested anonymity, fearing reprisal attacks, said two mosques and some Muslim-owned shops were attacked Wednesday in two towns in the central hills. The extent of the damage could not be verified.

Meanwhile, an internet company official says the government has ordered popular social media networks blocked across a swathe of central Sri Lanka in an attempt to stop the spread of religious violence.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity under company policy, said the networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp, were blocked in the central hills, scene of the violence. Outside of that region, though, many people were also unable to access the social media sites.

The government order came as anti-Muslim rioting flared anew, with Buddhist mobs attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops in at least two towns.

Anti-Muslim riots began Monday after a Buddhist Sinhalese man died after reportedly being attacked by a group of Muslim youths. Sri Lanka has long been divided between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and minority Tamils who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

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