Sri Lanka remained under a state of emergency Wednesday after ethnic Buddhist mob attacks against members of the minority Muslim population.
President Maithripala Sirisena imposed the decree Tuesday, a day after Sinhalese mobs attacked several mosques, plus dozens of Muslim-owned shops and businesses in the central district of Kandy. The body of a young Muslim man who was trapped when fire burned down his parents's small shop was found by firefighters Tuesday.
The unrest began on Saturday, when a Sinhalese truck driver was injured after he reportedly clashed with a group of Muslim youths in Kandy. The driver died of his injuries the next day.
Sri Lanka remains deeply divided along religious and ethnic lines since the end of the 36-year civil war in 2009, when government forces crushed an insurgency by the ethnic Tamil minority seeking an independent homeland. Hardline Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists have accused Muslims of attacking sacred Buddhist sites and forcing people to convert.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the "racist and violent acts" on Twitter Tuesday. "As a nation that endured a brutal war we are all aware of the values of peace, respect, unity & freedom," he wrote.
The U.S. Embassy in Colombo urged the government to act quickly against the perpetrators, protect the rights of religious minorities and lift the state of emergency as soon as possible.