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Sri Lanka declares state of emergency amid anti-Muslim riots

Sri Lanka
Photo by -/AFP/Getty Images

Sri Lanka has declared a 10-day state of emergency as authorities attempt to quell violent riots between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in the city of Kandy, reports The Guardian.

What's happening: The violence was reportedly set off after a group of Muslim men were accused of killing a Sinhala Buddhist in the nearby town of Digana. Buddhist hardliners responded by lighting Muslim shops on fire, killing at least one Muslim man, and defying a police curfew, prompting the government to declare the first state of emergency since the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2011.

The backdrop: The island nation of 22 million is comprised of four main religious groups: Buddhists (70.2%), Hindus (12.6%), Muslims (9.7%) and Christians (7.4%). Communal tensions have been a constant of Sri Lankan life for decades, but they've run especially high in the years following the civil war, as Buddhist nationalists have grown more emboldened behind mainstream political support.