Hardline Sri Lanka Buddhists seek ties with India's Hindus

COLOMBO (AFP) - A Buddhist group accused of instigating religious hate attacks in Sri Lanka said Tuesday it is in talks with Hindu nationalists in India to form an alliance against what it called rising Islamic extremism in the region.

The Buddhist Force, or BBS, says Sri Lanka faces a threat from radical Islam. It has been linked to a rise in attacks against the country's minority Muslim and Christian population in the past two years, although it denies any involvement.

On Tuesday it said it was seeking a tie-up with India's Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist group linked to India's ruling party that is viewed as hostile to the country's 160-million-strong Muslim minority.

"Discussions are at a high level with the RSS," BBS chief, Buddhist monk Galagodaatte Gnanasara told reporters in Colombo. "We are having a dialogue with the RSS as well as Buddhist organisations in India.

"We think we can have a Buddhist-Hindu peace zone in this part of the world."

Sri Lanka suffered its worst religious violence in decades this June when riots left four people dead.

The majority-Buddhist country's government has denied accusations it provides tacit support to the BSS, whose members have been shown attacking minority religious areas in videos posted on social media.

Last month the group formed an alliance with Myanmar's 969 movement, a Buddhist group linked to anti-Muslim riots in that country.