Police fire tear gas at Colombo demonstrators

[TamilNet, Thursday, 15 July 1999, 12:28 GMT]
Sri Lankan riot police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators who participated in a procession today, demanding the government to abolish the Presidential system in the country.

An elite commando goes into action in Colombo to prevent anti-government activists marching onto the residence of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. The demonstrators were protesting the government's inability to deliver on a promise to scrap the executive presidency by Thursday 15 July 1995 as pledged by Kumaratunga just before she became president in November 1994.Photo:AFP
Sources said that it is feared that several demonstrators including UNP parliamentarians were wounded in the incident. The incident took place at about 5 p.m.

About 6000 people participated the procession, the sources added.

The Deputy Inspector of Police in Colombo, T.N de Silva, said that when the Police tried to stop the unauthorised procession, the demonstrators had stoned the Police and the Police in return had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Three processions organised by the main opposition party, the UNP, started from Colombo, Maradana and Havelock Road junction arrived at the Town Hall junction, when the Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Sources said that the Police had assaulted the demonstrators.

Meanwhile the state media claimed that the police fired tear gas only when the protesters became unruly and turned on the police and media personnel.

It further said that some police officers were injured slightly in the clashes with the protesters, and that the protesters had thrown stones at the police vehicles.

A supporter of the UNP shows an empty tear gas shell.

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