Close aide of Sri Lanka bombers arrested with several passports

Mohammed Rizwan was arrested from the Mabole area in Wattala by the police on Wednesday.

Ruwan Gunasekera, a police spokesperson, said that more than 80 people were in custody as of Tuesday evening. But Muslims in NWP remained nervous and stayed indoors on Wednesday, after sword-wielding rioters killed one man late on Monday while vandalising scores of shops and mosques.

"We welcome the arrests made in connection with the violence, and call on the government to ensure that the rule of law is upheld and that the law is applied equally to all instigators and perpetrators of communal violence", a joint statement by the diplomats said.

A shopkeeper in Minuwangoda, one of the worst affected towns just north of Colombo, said roads were reopened Thursday amid a heavy military and police presence.

The curfew was briefly lifted on Tuesday before being reimposed for a second straight night following reports of fresh violence in some parts of the country.

In the same press conference, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, minister of public administration, said the group behind the attacks had political aims.

The island-wide curfew was imposed on Monday after violence against the Muslim community which accounts for 10 per cent of the country's population.

In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M.I.M. Siddeeque said the community was anxious.

"Our people are still afraid to go out", he told AFP by telephone.

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Despite the extraordinary security measures, the minorities felt insecure, said Dissanayake, who is also a government minister.

"We looked at footage from three cameras and found that there was no conniving of troops with the rioters", Senanayake told reporters in Colombo.

Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka's majority Buddhist Sinhalese community and on bail for his role in similar riots in March previous year in the central Kandy district.

Thilakaratne, a spokesman of the Catholic church said that if the Catholics were to take revenge against the Muslims, they would have done so in the first two days. "We have given the armed forces of this country. a complete free hand to tackle the security situation".

Another man arrested was identified as Namal Kumara, a deserter from both the army and the air force for his alleged role in leading mobs.

Authorities said they have arrested more than 74 suspects in connection with the anti-Muslim attacks, including three Sinhala Buddhist extremists who had been investigated for similar actions in Kandy past year.

Parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya condemned the violence and appealed for calm.

The attacks come during the Muslim holy month of Ramazan.

The social media blockade is meant to prevent the spread of rumours and hate comments, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said.

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