The United States is urging Sri Lanka's government to protect religious minorities after hardline Buddhists launched deadly attacks on Muslims.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki (SAH'-kee) also called on the government Tuesday to conduct a full investigation and bring those responsible for the violence to justice.

Sri Lankan authorities said three Muslims were killed and dozens wounded in the attacks overnight Sunday in the island nation's southwest. The Buddhist group whose supporters launched the attacks has been gaining followers and is believed to have state support.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has promised an investigation into the violence.

Sri Lanka is still deeply scarred by its quarter-century civil war that ended in 2009 between the Buddhist Sinhalese majority and ethnic Tamil rebels, who are largely Hindu. Buddhist-Muslim violence has been relatively rare.