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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Sri Lanka's capital under curfew
Sri Lankan army troops
The army had to be deployed to restore order
By Amal Jayasinghe in Colombo

A night-time curfew has been imposed in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, following violent clashes between police and Muslim protestors.

The clashes erupted shortly after Friday prayers at a mosque in the capital.

Those attending the prayers were protesting over violence in the central Sri Lankan town of Mawanella two days ago, when one man was killed and 20 others wounded after the police opened fire.

As mobs threw stones and attacked buses and cars in the capital, police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered outside the city police station.

The army was used to restore order.

Emergency laws

Officials said more than a dozen people were wounded and many more private cars and buses were damaged during the rioting.

The government has announced it will use tough emergency laws to deal with trouble makers.

The authorities fear that violence in the capital may spread to ethnically mixed regions in and around the city.

Muslims are Sri Lanka's second largest minority after Tamils.

With Tamil separatists already battling for a separate state in the country, the government appears keen to avoid opening another front.

Government authorities say the situation appeared to be under control, but the curfew was a precautionary measure.

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See also:

17 Sep 00 | South Asia
Helicopter crash probe launched
16 May 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka: The ethnic divide
27 Apr 01 | South Asia
Casualties mount in Sri Lanka
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