Thursday, Jul 07, 2022
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Sri Lanka Lifts Curfew In Rambukkana: Probe Begins On Police Firing At Protesters

Sri Lankan authorities lifted the curfew imposed in the southwestern region of Rambukkana where one person was killed and 13 others were injured in violence after the police opened fire at unarmed anti-government protestors.

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Sri Lanka economic crisis AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena

Sri Lankan authorities on Thursday lifted the curfew imposed in the southwestern region of Rambukkana where one person was killed and 13 others were injured in violence after the police opened fire at unarmed anti-government protestors demonstrating against the latest fuel price hike.

The curfew was lifted at 5 AM (local time) on Wednesday, police said.

At least three of the 14 hospitalised protesters at Rambukkana, some 90 kilometers northeast of Colombo, were critical at the Kegalle hospital, according to an official. Fifteen police personnel have also been injured.

Foreign Minister G L Peiris told reporters: “We have requested the Human Rights Commission to conduct an impartial inquiry. We want to be honest and we do not want to sweep anything under the carpet”.

Chaminda Lakshan, a 41-year-old man who died of gunshot wounds, is survived by two children.

“I want justice for my father’s death. I do not want money or any other help,” his 16-year-old daughter Piyumi Lakshani told reporters.

She said that her father was not a protester and had gone to buy petrol for his motorcycle.

The death of a protester was the first during the ongoing protests over the worst-ever economic crisis in the country's history.

Top bureaucrat of the public security ministry Jagath Alwis said the protesters tried to set on fire a fuel tanker having 33,000 liters of fuel.

The police were forced to open fire to prevent a fuel bowser being set in flames by the protesters.

Alwis said a three-member probe committee has been appointed to probe if the police had used excessive power in opening the fire at protesters.

The embassies of the US, the EU, and the UN resident coordinator have issued statements condemning the police shooting.

The latest fuel price hike on Monday night triggered street protests in many areas on Tuesday.

Oil entities in the island nation have been hiking the price regularly due to the shortage of fuel.

Kegalle Magistrate Wasana Navaratne visited the site of the shooting and ordered the police not to intimidate witnesses. The police had produced one protester in court.

Meanwhile, the police said that a 20-member panel has been appointed to investigate the shooting incident.

Protests continued in most parts of the island nation against the government for its mishandling of the economic crisis.

The main protest near President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s secretariat enters its 13th day on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka is grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.

The island nation is witnessing large-scale protests against the government's handling of the debt-ridden economy - the worst-ever economic crisis in the country's history.

Protests demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa and his Sri Lanka Podujana (Peramuna)-led government have intensified as shortages continued and prices soared.

Last week, the Sri Lankan government said it would temporarily default on USD 35.5 billion in foreign debt as the pandemic and the war in Ukraine made it impossible to make payments to overseas creditors. 

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