Police say investigations have linked BBS to hate crimes

The Police say investigations have linked the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) to recent hate crimes in the country.

The Police have arrested four people including a Buddhist monk and a police officer accused of taking part in an attack on a mosque, as part of a crackdown on violence against the minority Muslim population, the Reuters news agency reported.

Police said on Sunday the four were members of the BBS or Buddhist Power Force organisation, which Muslim groups have blamed for a string of recent attacks on businesses and mosques. BBS has denied any involvement.

“The police arrested four people including a Buddhist monk and a serving police constable after watching the CCTV footage of an attack on a mosque,” police spokesman Priyantha Jayakody told reporters, referring to an attack on a property in Panadura.

“This is a major breakthrough in the investigations, these two people are prominent members of the Bodu Bala Sena organisation,” he added, saying they were arrested with a sword, a hockey stick and equipment used to make petrol bombs.

President Maithripala Sirisena’s government has come under fire from opposition groups and diplomats for not doing enough to crack down on hardline Buddhist groups and protect Muslims.

More than 20 attacks on Muslims, including arson at Muslim-owned businesses and petrol-bomb attacks on mosques, have been recorded since April 17.

Jayakody said police had arrested eleven people for hate speech offences this month, including a Muslim for a Facebook post against Buddhism and a Tamil accused of attacking a mosque.