sri lanka: protests in sri lanka: curfew remains in rambukkana after violence; 3 critical

COLOMBO: Police in Sri Lanka said on Wednesday curfew will continue in the southwestern region of Rambukkana, where one person was killed and 13 others injured in violence after police opened fire on unarmed anti-government protesters demonstrating against the latest rise of the fuel price.
At least three of the 13 protesters at the hospital in Rambukkana, about 90 kilometers northeast of Colombo, were said to have been critical at Kegalle Hospital, officials said. Fifteen police officers were also injured.
Police Chief Chandana Wickremaratne told reporters that the police curfew would continue in the area.
“Protesters turned violent yesterday and blocked the track. They demanded fuel at the old price after waiting a long time in the fuel queue,” he said.
When police arranged for two tankers, the protesters took out the battery from one of the vehicles, blocking the railway line, Wickremaratne said.
“Police used minimal force by firing tear gas,” the police chief said.
The death of a protester was the first amid ongoing protests over the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.
Top public security ministry bureaucrat Jagath Alwis said the protesters attempted to set fire to a fuel tanker containing 33,000 liters of fuel.
Police had to open fire to prevent the archer from being set on fire by the protesters.
Alwis said a three-member commission of inquiry has been appointed to investigate whether police used excessive force in opening fire on protesters.
US, EU embassies and the UN resident coordinator have issued statements condemning the police shooting.
The latest fuel price hike on Monday night sparked street protests in many areas on Tuesday.
Oil entities on the island have regularly increased the price due to the shortage of fuel.
Meanwhile, unions have collectively said they would launch a black protest to force the government’s resignation for tampering with the ongoing economic crisis.
“We would have a picket campaign in black,” said the teachers’ union boss, Joseph Stalin.
On Tuesday, the federation of university teachers held a walk in solidarity with the main anti-government protest held in Galle Face at the entrance to the presidential secretariat.
Galle Face’s protest will enter its 12th day on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka has been grappling with unprecedented economic turmoil since independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is partly caused by a lack of foreign currency, which has prevented the country from paying for staple food and fuel imports, leading to acute shortages and very high Prices.
The island nation is witnessing large-scale protests against the government’s handling of its debt-ridden economy – the worst economic crisis in the country’s history.
Protests demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his Sri Lanka Podujana (Peramuna)-led government have intensified as shortages persisted and prices rose.
Last week, the Sri Lankan government said it would temporarily default on $35.5 billion in foreign debt as the pandemic and war in Ukraine made it impossible to make payments to foreign creditors.

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