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KANDY: Police and politicians backed by the country’s former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa joined anti-Muslim riots that rocked Sri Lanka’s Kandy district this month, according to witnesses, officials and CCTV footage reviewed by Reuters.

Scores of Muslim mosques, homes, and businesses were destroyed as mobs ran amok for three days in Kandy, the central highlands district previously known for its diversity and tolerance. The government declared a state of emergency and blocked social media platforms for a week to control the unrest.

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The role of police and some local Buddhist politicians suggests the Sri Lankan government lost control of elements of its security forces, and that the violence was more than a spontaneous outbreak fuelled by fringe Buddhist extremists and hate-speech spread on social media.

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