Bombs and bullets rule Sri Lankan Muslim town

Bomb explosions and gunfire drove fear into the Muslim community in this northeastern Sri Lanka town, a day after three people were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed by rioting mobs.

Constant gunfire interrupted a hastily called press conference here by senior Muslim minister Rauf Hakeem, prompting the authorities to seek police and army reinforcements to prevent a further escalation of violence. “You have experienced what it is like for bombs to explode almost at your feet and experienced the firing that is going on around us,” Hakeem told reporters Friday, invited to the area after a day of rioting. “What is point of a peace process if people don’t have security?” Hundreds have already fled their homes fearing attacks and moved to public buildings here. Heavily armed troops fired into the air and exploded smoke bombs to separate Muslim and Tamil mobs who were armed with automatic rifles, knives and sticks. As reporters stood outside the Kataiparchchan army camp here, mobs within a stone’s throw set fire to a small hut while the two sides pelted stones at each other amid gunfire and explosions. Full Story

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