Police deploy tear gas, water cannon against hard-line Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka

Police fire tear gas and water cannon at Buddhist protesters in Sri Lanka.

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a hard-line Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organisation, demonstrated Monday to demand the release of their general secretary, Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero.

Gnanasara is currently serving a six-year jail term, handed to him in August for contempt of court, just two months after receiving a six-month jail term for intimidation. It is highly unusual for Sri Lanka to convict Buddhist monks.

Later on Monday Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena expressed regret and offered an apology to the group of protesters, according to local media.

BBS has been accused of channelling the rhetoric of populist anti-Muslim movements around the globe, and Muslims have accused BBS of stirring up violence against Muslims and Christians.