Sri Lanka steps up security as protest toll rises

COLOMBO, August 4, 2013 (AFP) – Police poured into a village near Sri Lanka’s capital ahead of the funeral Sunday of a teenager shot dead by troops during a protest against contaminated water, residents said. Criticism by the opposition and rights groups of the army’s use of force has mounted since the shootings. Private television networks have broadcast footage of troops opening fire at unarmed residents.

The shootings come ahead of a visit to the island by the UN rights chief Navi Pillay later this month.

The independent Lawyers Collective on Saturday condemned the crackdown, including live firing, against the protest to demand clean drinking water for thousands of residents of Weliweriya, 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Colombo.

Dipped Products Ltd, a publicly listed company, said Sunday they were not responsible for the pollution at Weliweriya, but were cooperating with environmental tests under way by authorities.

Its factory remains shut because of the protest.

Pillay is due in Colombo on August 25 on a five-day visit in connection with allegations that Sri Lankan troops killed up to 40,000 civilians in the final stages of an ethnic war with Tamil rebels in 2009.
Sri La