2ND LEAD (Adds details)

Sinhala Buddhists, Christians clash over attacks on Vihare, Church in Ja-Ela

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 December 2009, 13:38 GMT]
Police riot squads, Special Task Force (STF), Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) Sunday were called to prevent clashes between two groups representing Sinhala Buddhists and Sinhala Christians following two separate attacks on a Buddhist Vihare and a Catholic church in Ja-Ela area by unidentified persons, Police spokesman I . M. Karunaratne said.

Unidentified group of persons suspected to be Sinhala Buddhist hardliners Sunday morning attacked a Christian church and set fire to several vehicles.

The Church is located in Crooswatta, Ja-Ela.

The Church attack followed an earlier attack on a Buddhist Vihare in the area by another gang earlier, police said.

Police spokesperson added the two police stations in the area have been strengthened with additional personnel to maintain peace and to arrest those involved in the attacks and to quell further disturbances.

More than 500 protestors belong to Christian community have launched a protest on the Minuwangoda - Ja-Ela main road blocking traffic and are demanding that police arrest those responsible for the attack on the church.

Meanwhile, sources from Ja-Ela said the background to Church attack revolved around two local incidents.

In a recently concluded litigation against the Church by the locals, the court had ruled in favor of the Church, angering the locals.

In addition, unconfirmed reports indicate that the damage to the Vihare was caused by a distraught man who had accused the Vihare custodian priest of having friendly relationship with his wife. Vihare officials had concocted a story claiming the damage was caused by Christians to turn the locals against the Christian church.


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