Sri Lanka’s president declared a state of emergency on Tuesday amid fears that anti-Muslim attacks in several central hill towns could spread.
Details of the emergency decree were not immediately announced, and it was unclear how it would affect life on the South Asian island nation, where Buddhist-Muslim tensions have flared in recent years with the growth of extremist Buddhist organizations.
The areas where the violence erupted Monday, outside the town of Kandy, remained under curfew Tuesday, with soldiers and police patrolling the streets and no one allowed outside except for emergencies.
A tweet from the office of President Maithripala Sirisena said the decree would “redress the unsatisfactory security situation prevailing in certain parts of the country.” It said the country’s security forces “have been suitably empowered to deal with criminal elements in the society and urgently restore normalcy.”
According to Time, The emergency announcement came after Buddhist mobs swept through the towns outside Kandy, burning at least 11 Muslim-owned shops and homes. The attacks followed reports that a Buddhist man had been killed by a group of Muslims. Police fired tear gas into the crowds, and later announced a curfew in the town.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the government condemned the “racist and violent acts.”
“As a nation that endured a brutal war we are all aware of the values of peace, respect, unity and freedom,” he said on Twitter.