**Colombo: ** A 10-day state of emergency was declared in Sri Lanka on Tuesday after sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims in the Kandy region left two people dead, government officials said. Clashes between the majority Buddhists and the minority Muslims erupted on Sunday in the central part of the country leading to the deaths, torching of around 20 shops and a dozen arrests.
President Maithripala Sirisena and the Cabinet decided to declare a state of emergency for 10 days. Security services were empowered to deal with “criminal elements” and to restore normality on the island, the media division of the President’s office tweeted.
The statement from Sirisena’s office came after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Parliament that the government was considering imposing a state of emergency.
The Indian cricket team is currently in Sri Lanka for a tri-nation series along with Bangladesh — and the country’s Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara said there was no question of cancelling any matches at the moment.
The government also convened a special meeting over the communal violence involving the Muslims and the Sinhalese, who are mostly Buddhists, Efe news reported.
Early in the day, the body of a 28-year-old Muslim man was recovered from Teldeniya in Kandy province leading to fresh unrest. His house was allegedly set on fire by Buddhist radicals. The man got trapped inside the house after he let his parents escape the fire.
The house, which also served as a business establishment, was among the around 20 shops that were set on fire, along with a mosque, by the radicals.
The authorities on Monday imposed a curfew and arrested more than 20 people in Kandy for the violence that ensued after the death of a Buddhist in Teldeniya, who was killed when he clashed with four Muslims.
In 2014, violence between Muslims and Buddhists had erupted in two cities in the southern part of the country and left four people dead and 16 injured.
The ultra-nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena, led by monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, was found to be responsible for the violence against the Muslims.
Buddhists make up nearly 70 per cent of the total population of Sri Lanka while only 11 per cent are Muslims.