Several hundred Buddhists who feel threatened by the growing number of conversions to Christ in their community attacked worshipers at an Assemblies of God church in Matara on the southern tip of Sri Lanka December 14.

The mob assaulted churchgoers who came to the 10 a.m. Sunday service and also hurled stones that shattered church windows and damaged vehicles.

At a police inquiry afterward, a Buddhist monk demanded that the church be closed. Police, however, upheld the fundamental right of the church to exist in Matara.

Buddhism is the state religion in Sri Lanka, which has a population of 18.5 million people, 70 percent of them Buddhist. There has been a 230 percent increase in anti-Christian incidents on the island nation south of India in the past year, according to the Evangelical Alliance (EA) of Sri Lanka. "This is one more incident in a long chain of oppression faced by Christians in Sri Lanka," says EA president Godfrey Yogarajah.

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