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In 1972, and again in 1987, the predominantly Sinhalese Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party (JVP) launched insurrections that were bloodily suppressed.Clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils in 1983 led to an attack on a Sri Lankan army convoy.One can speculate about the logic of radicalisation and its possible manifestations.It is possible that, if Islamist-inspired, the bombings were not a direct retaliation for last year’s anti-Muslim riots, but part of a wider jihadi agenda.Many Tigers, including their leader, were summarily executed.There remains much bitterness among Tamils towards the ethnic majority Sinhalese, but there is no appetite for renewing a war that ended so disastrously.It may be that the Colombo East bombings are a reaction to recent ethnic persecution.
Anti-Muslim riots in 2014 resulted in a ten day state of emergency. Buddhist monks have also disrupted Christian church services.
Sri Lanka’s history of extremist violence, then, is far from new.
Sinhalese Buddhist chauvinism has been the driver of much of this conflict.
Easter Sunday’s coordinated bomb blasts, which killed almost 300 and injured hundreds more, are the latest in a long history of ethno-religious tragedies.
While no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, 24 people have been arrested. The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attacks on the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), a radical Islamist group known for vandalising Buddhist statues.
This contributes to speculation of returned Islamic State fighters having joined NTJ.