At least 700 refugees from a persecuted Islamic sect are in hiding after fleeing their homes in the Sri Lankan port city of Negombo as communal tensions soar in the aftermath of the deadly Easter Sunday bombings.
A group of around 500 Muslims are being sheltered in one city, which the Guardian is not naming. There was a significant police presence outside their location and dozens of locals were protesting, calling for the group to be removed from the area.
“These people must be pulled out from this place,” said a local provincial council member. “We don’t want them.” Signs in English and Sinhala posted outside said: “We don’t need Pakistan refugees.”
“The people in Pakistan attacked us and say we’re not Muslims,” Tariq Ahmed, a 58-year-old Ahmadi who fled his home, told the Associated Press. “Then in Sri Lanka, people attack us because they say we are Muslims.”
“We are not their enemies. We are facing the same situation these people are facing,” said Qazi Moin Ahmed, 21. “We are not terrorists, but they consider us terrorists.”