The violence occurred in the northern sector of Grandpass, which is home to a large Muslim population.
Riot squads and police commandos moved into the area, and a curfew was imposed for a second night Sunday.
The Muslim mayor of Colombo called it a “dastardly attack”, and told CNN that it was just the latest in a series of similar incidents.
“We appeal to the government to ensure such attacks do not recur since the right to worship is enshrined in our Constitution,” said A.J. Mohamed Muzzamil, adding “The government should bring the perpetrators of this attack” to justice immediately.”
The U.S. Embassy in Colombo also voiced its concern, saying in a statement, “This incident is particularly troubling in the light of a number of recent attacks against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.”
“Targeting any place of worship should never be permitted and we urge calm from all sides. We call for prosecution of perpetrators in this attack and an end to religious based violence. The right of all Sri Lankans to practice the religion of their choice should be protected.”
The new mosque was just 300 meters away from a Buddhist temple, and many Buddhists had objected to the proximity. It was built to replace an older mosque about 800 meters away which had been set for demolition.
Saturday night, a day after Muslims had celebrated the end of Ramadan, dozens of Buddhists took to the streets in anger.
The government announced Sunday that the dispute had been settled after holding talks with both Buddhist and Muslim leaders.
The mosque will move back to its original location, and the demolition order will be rescinded. The new building will cease to function as a mosque.
The majority of Sri Lanka’s population of 20 million are Buddhist, while 7 percent are Muslim. Image/CNN