Sri Lanka shuts social media

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COLOMBO, 9 March 2018: Following on from a state of emergency declared in Kandy, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, the country’s tourism board says tourists should not visit the popular  town that serves as a gateway to heritage and tea-country tours.

Kandy is a major destination for international tourists, who visit the town famous for its annual temple precession led by elephants and dancers, plus its status as a holiday base to explore tea plantations and the hill country.

The state of emergency will remain in place for 10 days, after sectarian riots and violence occurred over the weekend.

An overnight curfew was lifted on Wednesday, but there are still reports of travel disruptions. This could prompt authorities to reintroduce a curfew in the evenings at 0800 until dawn.

Trains operating between Colombo and Kandy have now resumed normal services.

But social media sites have been blocked, or restricted, travel advisories warned. They were accused allowing extremists to propagate hate messages mainly targeting the Muslim minority.

The social media ban affected Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp. The government asked internet service providers to block messaging apps after Facebook posts encouraged violence towards the country’s Muslim population.

A 10-day nationwide state of emergency was declared in Sri Lanka on Tuesday amid increased violence between Muslim and Buddhist communities.

The popular tourist destination saw violent  clashes last Sunday between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and local Muslims, who make up about 9% of Sri Lanka’s population.

Travel advisories were issued by the US, UK and Australia, this week.