These attacks are different from previous ethno-religious violence in Sri Lanka.
By fomenting generalised religious hatred, they appear to have more in common with Al-Qaeda, which has sought specific political change.
This sparked the “Black July” Sinhalese rampage against ethnic Tamils, leaving at least 3,000 dead and marking the start of the inter-ethnic civil war.
Easter Sunday’s coordinated bomb blasts, which killed almost 300 and injured hundreds more, are the latest in a long history of ethno-religious tragedies.
While no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attacks, 24 people have been arrested. The Sri Lankan government has blamed the attacks on the National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NTJ), a radical Islamist group known for vandalising Buddhist statues.
Some Sinhalese claimed that all of Sri Lanka should be exclusively Buddhist.
With the Tamil Tigers defeated, Sri Lanka’s non-Buddhist communities were again persecuted.
This culminated in 2013 with a Buddhist attack on a mosque.
Anti-Muslim riots in 2014 resulted in a ten day state of emergency. Buddhist monks have also disrupted Christian church services.
Many Tigers, including their leader, were summarily executed.
There remains much bitterness among Tamils towards the ethnic majority Sinhalese, but there is no appetite for renewing a war that ended so disastrously.
In 1972, and again in 1987, the predominantly Sinhalese Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna party (JVP) launched insurrections that were bloodily suppressed.
Clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils in 1983 led to an attack on a Sri Lankan army convoy.
In its final weeks, around 40,000 mostly Tamil civilians were killed, bringing the war’s total toll to more than 100,000 from a population of around 20 million.