Three monks held in Lanka over Muslim store attack



Colombo: At least three Buddhist monks have been arrested today for attacking a Muslim-owned clothing store that raised fears of religious tensions in the country.

The monks were detained four days after a mob, including Buddhist monks, vandalised and set afire a showroom of the Fashion Bug clothing chain in the Pepiliyana suburb of Colombo, police spokesman and superintendent Buddhika Siriwardena said.

Police arrested three monks after they surrendered. They will be taken to a magistrate tomorrow, he said, adding that investigations are underway to nab more suspects.

The arrests came after six monks were remanded in police custody on Saturday till April 2. An identification parade for all suspects would be held tomorrow.

Following the attack, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had said that his government will not allow racism or religious extremism in the country and advised the Buddhist majority community to protect the rights of others.

"This is a democratic country, non-Buddhists have equal rights and freedoms. While we safeguard the rights of Buddhists, it is the responsibility of the Buddhists to be exemplary and protect the rights of others," he had said.

Bodu Bala Sena, the Buddhist nationalist group, is allegedly leading a campaign which they say targets the growing Muslim extremism in the country.

Less than 10 per cent of Sri Lanka's population of 20 million are Muslim. The majority are Sinhalese Buddhist, while most Tamils are Hindu.

PTI