Sri Lanka blocks some social media platforms after violent incidents

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Sri Lanka is temporarily blocking some social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, it said on Monday after attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses in the worst unrest since Easter bombings by Islamist militants.

Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in the northwestern town of Chilaw on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper, police said.

"The government on Friday ordered mosques to clamp down on extremists and to submit copies of sermons in new fallout from the Easter suicide bombings that left 258 dead", the Sri Lankan outlet Ada Derana reported".

Authorities said they arrested the author of the post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, as well as a group of men in the nearby Kurunegala district for allegedly attacking Muslim-owned businesses.

The government's order was after security forces recovered swords and other weapons from mosques during search operations following the April 21 bomb blasts in which over 250 people, including 44 foreigners 10 of whom were Indians, were killed and 500 others injured.

Dozens of people have been detained since the Easter Sunday attacks, and amid the heightened security, police have banned parking near schools and students are allowed in after checking for explosives.

Sri Lanka has imposed a night-time curfew across the country amid an upsurge in anti-Muslim violence.

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Wickremesinghe said the unrest would hinder investigations into the April 21 attacks that targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels, killing 258 people and wounding almost 500. Most targets were in Colombo.

The unrest was concentrated in three districts north of the capital, but a night curfew was imposed across the country to prevent the spread of violence, police said.

"At several places in the North-Western Province these groups created trouble, damaged property", Wickremesinghe said in a televised address to the nation.

The speaker of parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, said Sri Lanka's future will "be decided by the way people behave in the next few days".

A violent clash between Muslims and Christians erupted a week ago in Negombo, killing more than 100 people during Easter prayers, after a traffic dispute.

Internet service providers said they have been instructed by the telecommunications regulator to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other platforms.

The security forces are conducting round the clock security operations since the attack in the crackdown on radical Muslims with links to the bombings.

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