RealNews

Muslims, Tamils Clash in Eastern Sri Lanka

Muslim and Tamil mobs clashed in eastern Sri Lanka on Friday, witnesses said, as cabinet ministers met to solve the latest crisis threatening the island’s peace bid ahead of a huge donors’ meeting set for Tokyo. Police fired tear gas to keep the crowds apart in the eastern area of Muttur, 230 km (140 miles) east of Colombo, the site of increased tension between Muslims and mostly Hindu Tamils after the alleged abduction of two youths by Tamil Tiger rebels. “It was very tense, but after Friday prayers and after a daytime curfew was imposed, things have calmed down,” said Teitur Torkelsson, a spokesman for the Nordic monitors who oversee the cease-fire between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. The clashes, which left two dead, have highlighted long-standing friction in Sri Lanka’s volatile east that officials say must be reduced if a bid to end the island’s two-decade war is to go ahead. “If this escalates, this could affect the peace process very negatively,” said Muslim Affairs Minister Rauff Hakeem, a member of the island’s peace negotiating team who is under pressure to pull his Sri Lanka Muslim Congress party out of the government. Full Story

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