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Police move Myanmar refugees after mob violence

Police moved a group of Myanmar refugees from their temporary safe house after a mob led by a handful of Buddhist monks attacked the multi-storied compound at Mount Lavinia yesterday.

The 31 refugees, including 16 small children, were initially placed under police protection after a small group of people gathered outside their building demanding that they be expelled from the country.

A lawyer for the refugees said they had been allowed to remain under UN protection pending repatriation to a third country,

but an organisation calling itself the Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa insisted on their immediate eviction. Rohingya refugee women were seen carrying small children and leaving the building and boarding a small police truck.

Shortly after the police brought them back to their temporary home, the monks and their supporters blocked the Galle Road and pelted stones, smashed windows and furniture inside the building.

There were no immediate reports of injury to the refugees who huddled in upstair rooms. A monk was seen shouting at his supporters to storm into the building and destroy it. His call was broadcast live on facebook by the Sinhale group on its official facebook page. The 31 Rohingya were rescued by Sri Lanka’s navy in April and brought to safety and cared for by the security forces till they were handed over to the civilian authorities. The refugees were said to have left their camp in India and were thought to be victims of people smugglers.