Sri Lanka police fire teargas, water at protesting monks

Sri Lanka police fired teargas and water Friday to scatter dozens of Buddhist monks protesting near the president’s home, including at least one who was threatening to set himself on fire, witnesses said. Sri Lanka police fired teargas and water Friday to scatter dozens of Buddhist monks protesting near the president’s home, including at least one who was threatening to set himself on fire, witnesses said. The saffron-robed monks, who are calling on President Chandrika Kumaratunga not to share tsunami aid with Tamil Tiger rebels, fled as police opened up with a water cannon followed by a barrage of teargas, they said.

“The core group of monks who were at the centre of the demonstration has been pushed away,” a witness said. “We can’t see those who were threatening self-immolation. They are gone.”

Minutes earlier, the monks had said they would remain where they were until they received a response from the president.

“We will not leave empty-handed,” a monk said using a loudspeaker shortly before police swung into action at Chatham Street, one of the main access routes to Kumaratunga’s tightly-guarded house.

Buddhist leaders had earlier held talks with Kumaratunga, who faces a wave of