KANDY, Sri Lanka — Residents say Buddhist mobs are still sweeping through Muslim neighborhoods in Sri Lanka’s central hills, destroying stores and restaurants despite a curfew, a state of emergency and heavy deployment of security forces.

Mohamed Ramzeen, who owns a small eatery outside the central town of Kandy, says about 50 people broke into his restaurant Wednesday night during the curfew, destroying nearly everything they found.

Others in the area have described similar attacks. The streets of most towns were empty Thursday except for police and soldiers.

Sri Lanka’s bitter ethnic divide, which fueled a long and bloody civil war, has shifted to a religious divide in recent years, with the rise of hard-line Buddhist groups that stoke anger against minority Muslims.

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