COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police on Tuesday opened fire at anti-government protesters in southwestern region of Rambukkana, killing at least one person and injuring 12 others - the first death during the ongoing protests over the worst-ever economic crisis in the country’s history.
The residents of Rambukkana - some 90 kilometers northeast of Colombo, were protesting at the latest fuel price hike when they clashed with the police. Scores of protesters teemed the streets and public places of Rambukkana town on Monday. The demonstration went late into the night.
On Tuesday, the protesters blocked the railway track at Rambukkana. When they were asked to clear the rail line, they hurled stones at security personnel, police said. Police Spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa said police issued warnings to the protesters to leave the area. However, they attempted to set fire to a fuel bowser, as well as a three-wheeler causing damage to property, Thalduwa was quoted as saying by News 1st channel. Thalduwa said that the police had opened fire after initially using tear gas to disperse the crowd and bring the situation under control.
One person was killed and 12 others injured in the firing, police said. The injured were admitted to Kegalle hospital. Four of them are in critical condition, police said.This was the first death due to clash during the ongoing anti-government protests. Earlier, a rap musician died of a heart attack while attending the protest. Curfew was imposed in the area following the violence, police said, adding that a number of policemen were also injured. The STF was deployed in the area to control the situation. The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) has appointed a three-member team to investigate the incident in Rambukkana. The commission has also called for an emergency meeting on Wednesday.