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Protesters killed in Sri Lanka army crackdown

Three involved in clean water protest confirmed dead

ucanews.com reporter, Colombo

ucanews.com reporter, Colombo

Published: August 05, 2013 08:21 AM GMT

Updated: August 05, 2013 05:30 PM GMT

Protesters killed in Sri Lanka army crackdown

Protesters hold a placard of Akila Dinesh, the 17-year-old killed last week

Two people died yesterday after allegedly being shot last week by Sri Lankan soldiers during a crackdown on protesters demanding clean water.

It brings to three the number killed during the crackdown on Thursday last week near Colombo.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL), the national human rights watchdog, has begun an investigation into the incident.

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A funeral was held yesterday for Akila Dinesh, a 17-year-old student who was the first to be confirmed dead. The ceremony took place amid tight security in Weliweriya, near the capital.

Sri Lankan troops are believed to have entered a church in the village and forced people to kneel down before assaulting them, according to a local resident who asked to remain anonymous.

“I strongly condemned the army entering the church and attacking unarmed civilians who protested for water,” said Father Lakpriya Nonis, parish priest of St. Anthony’s Church in Weliweriya, addressing the gathering at the funeral yesterday.

“No one has the right to take the life of another, it’s a disgrace to humanity,” he continued.

The two confirmed dead yesterday were an 18-year-old student, Ravishan Perera, and a 29-year-old newly married garment factory worker.

“The army scolded and intimidated a priest and later threatened the nuns,” said the local resident.

The US embassy in Colombo condemned the attack on protesters and urged the government to respect the rights of the people to engage in peaceful protests.

Army media spokesman, Ruwan Wanigasooriya, however denied any attack on civilians had taken place.

"There is no army presence in the area now. We have started investigations on this attack," Wanigasooriya said.

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