The United Nations and the US have expressed concern over the rising incidence of election-related violence in Sri Lanka as the January 26 Presidential poll approaches.
One 60-year-old woman was killed and several were injured on Tuesday after gunmen opened fire at a bus in the Tangalle area of South Sri Lanka carrying people to an election rally organised by the Opposition.
On Wednesday, there was more violence in the Polonaruwa area following a clash between supporters of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance and supporters of the opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka. A local BBC journalist was among those injured in the incident, which took place in front of an election propaganda office of Fonseka, reports said.
"The US is deeply concerned by the escalating violence surrounding the upcoming presidential elections…We urge appropriate authorities to conduct a full investigation of this and other acts of violence and to protect those exercising their democratic right to support the candidate of their choice. This is the first nation-wide election in a peaceful, united Sri Lanka in several decades. We hope that the election is conducted freely, fairly and without violence,’’ the US embassy here said in a statement.
The UN too expressed “regret” over the pre-election violence. Martin Nesirky, spokesperson of the UN Secretary-General, asked about reports of violence during Sri Lanka’ s electoral campaigning said that any violence in the course of such a campaign is regrettable, the UN website reported.
Meanwhile, police officers on Wednesday raided the office of the Sunday Leader newspaper, which recently published Fonseka’s interview where he had spoken about alleged war crimes committed by the Lankan government.
Reports said police searched the printing press of the office saying they had information that defamatory posters were being printed at the premises.