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Protesting fisherman shot dead

[BBC, Wednesday, 15 February 2012 14:07 No Comment]

There have been violent protests in Sri Lanka a few days after the government raised the price of key household fuels by up to 50 percent.

A fisherman was killed as police confronted crowds on the west coast while teargas is being deployed at a big rally in the capital, Colombo.

Unrest and anger

Four days after sudden steep increases in the price of fuel, there is unrest and anger in much of Sri Lanka.

There’ve been days of protests and road blockades in the western fishing town of Chilaw, where larger boats depend on diesel whose price has jumped by 36% and smaller ones on kerosene which is now 49% more expensive.

About 5,000 people, including women and children, went on a protest march.

A resident told the BBC the security forces opened fire, killing a 38-year-old fisherman and wounding three or four others.

The police confirmed there was a gunfire death, saying it happened after the earlier use of teargas against crowds who they said had damaged some public buildings.

Stand off

Reports from the area say 15,000 people are in a standoff with the police and army on the beach and Catholic priests are trying to ease tensions.

Meanwhile the police have used teargas and water cannon against a demonstration in the capital against the fuel price rises.

The government says it was forced to make the hikes because of rising world oil prices.

Bus fares have gone up by 20% and steep new surcharges in the price of domestic electricity have been announced.

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