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Over 230 arrested over communal clashes in Sri Lanka

Tires are set on fire on a road in Kandy, Central Sri Lanka

Colombo, March 12 (UITV/IANS) - Over 230 people have been arrested over the communal clashes in Sri Lanka's Kandy district, including those who were caught for spreading hate speech on social media platforms, police said on Monday.

A police official told Xinhua news agency that while the situation in Kandy had returned to normal, tight security would remain for a few more days across the district to maintain law and order.

He said further arrests were expected over the next few days and a special desk had been set up at the police headquarters for the public to lodge complaints about violent incidents.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited Kandy over the weekend to meet the victims affected by the violence and assessed the extent of damages.

He promised the government would pay full compensation for those whose businesses, homes, mosques and temples had been destroyed in the clash.

The Prime Minister also said the clashes had created new challenges for the government at the local and international levels and it was a blow to the country's tourism and economy.

"We have been expecting a boom in the tourism industry but in the wake of disturbances in Kandy we don't know whether we can achieve it as expected."

Wickremesinghe was informed that nearly 465 houses, business establishments and vehicles were destroyed and damaged in the violence. Many mosques and temples were also destroyed.

Wickremesinghe said "an organised group was behind the communal clashes in Kandy" and the police had already received vital information about it.

Over the weekend, President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a three-member committee to investigate the violence.

Meanwhile, all government-run schools which had remained closed in the Kandy district since the clashes erupted on March 4 re-opened.

Three people were killed and several others injured in the communal clashes.

President Sirisena declared a week-long state of Emergency last week to prevent violations from spreading to other areas, the first of its kind after the country ended a 30-year civil war in 2009.

The latest clash was triggered after a 41-year-old Buddhist succumbed to his injuries after being attacked by a group of Muslim men on February 22.