Sri Lanka election: Muslim voters attacked as polls open in shadow of Easter bombings

16 November 2019, 08:14 | Updated: 16 November 2019, 10:39

Buses carrying voters in Sri Lanka have been attacked as fears over security continue following a terror attack whick killed 269 people earlier this year. 

The Muslim voters were shot at and their path was blocked by burning tyres in the north of the country hours before the presidential polls opened, according to the Colombo-based Centre for Monitoring Election Violence.

No injuries were reported and the police are investigating, the group said.

Seven Islamic State suicide bombers killed 269 people in three luxury hotels and three churches on Easter Sunday.

Sunday services were cancelled in the weekends following the bombings as it was feared more attacks could take place.

The outgoing president, Maithripala Sirisena, is not one of the 35 candidates running in the election. He was criticised for his handling of the bombings.

Minority Tamils and Muslims are concerned the election could see the leading candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa take power.

He is the brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is credited with leading the defeat against the Tamil Tiger rebels, a militant and political organisation.

The pair were seen as hard-line, leading to some minorities fearing for their future if they regained power.

Mr Rajapaksa, 71, has promoted himself as the only candidate capable of protecting Sri Lankans.

His closest rival is thought to be housing minister Sajith Premadasa, whose supporters organised the buses for the Muslim voters. Many of those on the buses had fled their homes in 1982 in fear of the Tamil rebels.

Results are expected as early as Sunday, with nearly 16 million of the country's 22 million population eligible to vote.

It is the third poll since the country's 30-year civil war ended in 2009.