Unidentified gunmen fired at a convoy of buses transporting Muslim voters in Sri Lanka as polling is underway for a new president in the country. The police reported that there were no casualties as the incident took place early morning today in Tantrimale, 150 miles north of the capital Colombo. Fear looms large for the minorities as several incidents reports are coming of them being stopped from casting their votes.
A police official said that the gunmen burnt tyres on the road to block the path. They fired on the bus and pelted stones as well. "At least two buses were hit, but we have no reports of casualties." said a police official in Tantrimale. The officials have also reported several cases of road-blocking to independent election commission.
The island country was hit by a terrorist attack on Easter Sunday just seven months ago as 269 people were killed at churches and hotels in multiple bombings carried out by Islamic extremists. Muslims who make 9% of Sri Lanka's population has been facing the repercussions ever since the terror attack.
Election Commissioner Ratnajeevan Hoole stated that he had urged the authorities for greater police protection in Muslim minority areas but the demand was ignored. "They (the Muslims) asked for polling booths in the areas where they are living without having to travel a long distance to their original village to vote," Hoole said in a statement. "They were sure that a disturbance like this would happen."
A total of 35 candidates are there on the ballot contesting in Sri Lanka's presidential elections. About 16 million citizens are eligible to cast their votes. The following president of Sri Lanka will be eighth to be elected into power.
As per a number of reports, only two candidates are in for a close fight. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, represents Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) while on the other hand is Sajith Premadasa, a cabinet minister in current United National party's (UNP) government.