Facebook, WhatsApp blocked in Sri Lanka after riots

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Colombo: The island nation of  Sri Lanka has blocked social media sites Facebook and WhatsApp after anti-Muslim riots broke out in the northwestern town on Sunday.

The authorities took the step after a posting on the social sites on Monday sparked anti-Muslim riots across several towns.

Reports said Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in the northwestern town of Chilaw on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper.

Sri Lanka has been on edge since the April 21 attacks by jihadist suicide bombers on three luxury hotels and three churches which left 258 dead.

Police said a night curfew in Chilaw and nearby areas was relaxed on Monday, but the social media ban was brought in to prevent incendiary act.

The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter attacks carried out by local jihadists.

Internet service providers said they were ordered to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other social media platforms.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the suicide bombings. Security forces and police have been given sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.

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