Sri Lanka arrests police over firing at protesters

June 1, 2011 (AFP) – Two senior Sri Lankan police officers have been arrested over live rounds fired at protests against a pension bill at which 150 people were injured in violent clashes. Police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said the two inspectors were held over their conduct at Monday’s protest in Katunayake, a town near the capital Colombo that is a major free trade zone.

“The two senior officers have not been charged yet, but they were arrested in connection with the shooting at demonstrators,” Jayakody said. “Investigations are under way.”

A 22-year-old man was critically wounded at the protest and is on a life support system in hospital, sources said. About 12 policemen were among the 150 people wounded.

The authorities swiftly withdrew the pensions bill and declared a holiday in Katunayake to defuse tension after thousands of workers took to the streets.

The government had proposed taking over provident fund contributions of private sector employees and paying them a smaller pension after retirement.

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