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Political supporters clash in Sri Lanka over arrested general

[Reuters, Wednesday, 10 February 2010 11:16 No Comment]

Sri Lankan police used tear gas to disperse government supporters and thousands of opposition protesters demonstrating against the arrest of the losing presidential candidate on Wednesday.

At least eight people were injured when opposition and ruling party supporters clashed at the protest outside the island nation’s Supreme Court, officials said.

Former army commander General Sarath Fonseka was arrested by military police on Monday on charges of engaging in politics against his president while still in uniform.

Fonseka lost by an 18 percentage point margin to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a January poll, after which he accused his former commander-in-chief of rigging the vote.

"We came here to do a peaceful protest against the arrest of General (Fonseka), but government thugs attacked us," said K.H. Indrani, a supporter of Fonseka.

"They stoned us and attacked with clubs and even threw glass bottles at us in front of these police force," she said, pointing at riot police.

Police were not available for comment while a nurse at the main hospital said eight people were being treated for injuries.

"Eight people are being treated at the Colombo national hospital for injuries," said Pushpa Soysa, the head nurse.

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