Massive opposition protest in Colombo

[TamilNet, Thursday, 19 July 2001, 06:57 GMT]
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A Sri Lankan policeman swings his baton at a protester in Colombo, Thursday. Sri Lankan police fired teargas and rubber bullets on Thursday to try to enforce a ban on rallies and force back thousands pouring into the capital for a huge opposition protest against the suspension of parliament.(Photo: Reuters)


Sri Lankan police used Thursday force to control thousands of opposition demonstrators who have been attempting to go in processions to downtown Colombo to participate in a joint opposition rally protesting the prorogation of parliament by President Chandrika Kumaratunge. Several opposition parties and trade unions have called for a general strike, protest demonstrations and civil disobedience campaign.

Opposition demonstrators clashed with police in several places in capital Colombo and its suburbs. A hospital sources said at least 30 people, wounded in the clashes have been brought in for treatment to National hospital and Kalubowila hospital.

A large number of armed police and troops have been deployed in the capital and many roads have been barricaded to block demonstrators entering the city. The demonstrators have, however, managed to break through barricades at many places.

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A Sri Lankan policeman swings his baton at a protester in Colombo, Thursday. (Photo: Reuters)
Thousands of protestors gathered at several places in Colombo Thursday morning and began to march towards Maradane in downtown Colombo to take part in the rally, called by Alliance for the Protection of Democracy comprising at least 15 opposition parties and trade unions.

Police clashed with protestors at Peliyagoda, Wattale, Kelaniya, Kotikawatta, Pepiliyana, Mount Lavinia and Borrela junction. Thousands of opposition party supporters continue to pour in to the capital from different parts of the island.

UNP Parliamentarian Joseph Michael Perera with Pradeep Happangamuwa was leading the procession at Peliyagoda when police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators.

The Police said the assistance of the three armed forces has been utilized to quell violence in Colombo city.

The Deputy Inspector General of Police Mr.Nimal Gunatilake, who is Commanding officer of the Special Task Force (STF) said, "STF personnel are kept in readiness to meet any emergency situation."

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Sri Lanka opposition party supporters seek shelter as police fire teargas Thursday, in a bid to break up an anti-government rally. Thousands of demonstrators marched through the capital despite a government ban to demand that President Chandrika Kumaratunga restore parliament. (Photo:AFP)

 

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