By: The Intel Hub
February 18, 2012
February 18, 2012
COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (BNO NEWS) — Police fired tear gas and used water cannons on Friday to disperse a protest against fuel prices and the rising cost of living in Sri Lanka’s capital of Colombo, local media reported on Saturday.
Thousands of people joined the protest which was organized by opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and members of his United National Party (UNP) outside Colombo’s main railway station. Police used tear gas and water cannons after barricading the road to disperse protesters who were trying to march towards the president’s residence.
Protesters pelted stones at police officers in retaliation of the tear gas and water cannons and sat on the main road, the Colombo Page reported. Police closed the main road, affecting thousands of rush hour commuters.
Friday’s protest came after one demonstrator was killed on Wednesday when police officers opened fire on fishermen who were protesting against fuel prices in the town of Chilaw in northwestern Sri Lanka. Thousands of fishermen in the region have been staging protests since the Sri Lanka government increased fuel prices on Saturday evening.
The government raised diesel prices by 35 percent and kerosene prices by 49 percent, both fuels used by the fishermen. Private bus owners also launched a strike but it was settled when the government allowed them to increase bus fares by 20 percent.
The government has pledged to spend 2 billion rupees ($17 million) a month to provide fuel subsidies to affected sectors such as the bus and rail service and fisheries. The government says the petroleum authority is losing billions of rupees from subsidizing fuel and the government has to follow global market trends.
© 2012. BNO NEWS. All Rights Reserved, Published by The Intel Hub with permission.