Buses transporting Muslims to cast their ballots in Sri Lanka’s presidential election have been attacked by gunfire, fuelling fears that minorities are being targeted to stop them from voting.
Police officials confirmed that the buses, which were carrying hundreds of Muslim residents from the north-west town of Puttalam, were hit on Saturday morning when attackers burned tyres on the road and set up makeshift roadblocks to ambush the convoy of more than 100 vehicles.
“The gunmen opened fire and also pelted stones,” said an official in Tantirimale, 150 miles (240km) north of the capital, Colombo. “At least two buses were hit, but we have no reports of casualties.”
The Muslim group were travelling to the neighbouring district of Mannar, where they were registered to vote. There were also reports of a heavy military presence and unauthorised roadblocks in Jaffna, northern Sri Lanka, which is home to the majority of the country’s Tamil population.
Sri Lanka’s presidential election is taking place just seven months after the Easter Sunday attacks by self-radicalised Islamist extremists who carried out multiple bombings, killing 269 people in attacks on churches and hotels. In the aftermath, there has been a surge of attacks, cases of harassment and boycotts on Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, who make up 9% of the population.
Source: The Guardian