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The government declared a state of emergency last week as 11 mosques were torched and 200 Muslim-owned businesses destroyed in riots by Sinhalese mobs that left at least three people dead and around 20 wounded. So far, about 150 people, including key suspect Amith Weerasinghe from the hard-line Sinhala Buddhist group Mahasona Balakaya, have been arrested, the police said.

There have been several communal clashes in recent years in Sri Lanka, where Sinhalese Buddhists make up 75 per cent of its 21 million people.

A curfew in the district, which is 115km (72 miles) east of the capital Colombo, was lifted at dawn yesterday but army soldiers continued to patrol alongside police, officials said.

He drew similarity to state that "It is precisely these conditions culminating in periodic anti-Tamil pogroms, which ultimately led to the three-decade long civil war, the effects of which the country is still struggling to overcome".

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The violence has raised fears of instability in Sri Lanka, a South Asian island nation still struggling to recover from almost three decades of ethnic civil war.

Authorities have also blocked internet access across the famous tourist district and disrupted Facebook and messaging platforms after police said they were used to instigate communal violence. "At the same time, the authorities are folding their arms and watching", said Muslim businessman M. Jaffer, as quoted in Thursday's DailyFT newspaper.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) said the decision to continue the suspension was made at the request of the Ministry of Defence.

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have increased deployment of forces in the city of Kandy in the country's Central Province for 10 days.

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Military officials said more reinforcements were sent to the area on Wednesday night to assist police who resorted to teargas to disperse rioters the previous evening. Conflict escalated when a Muslim man was found dead in a burnt building on Tuesday.

Some Buddhist nationalists have protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

The United Nations on Sunday condemned a string of anti-Muslim attacks in Sri Lanka including the burning of mosques and businesses.

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