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US raises concerns over troop deployment in Sri Lanka, says protesters shouldn’t be intimidated

Sri Lanka’s Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, General Shavendra Silva, on Tuesday gave his assurances that the military won’t resort to the “disgraceful” act of shooting at protesters under any circumstances, after the opposition expressed its concerns that troops would abuse anti-government demonstrators.

The United States on Tuesday said it was concerned by the deployment of the military in Sri Lanka, hours after that country’s Defence Ministry ordered its forces to “open fire” on people found looting public property or causing harm to others.

“We’re concerned by the deployment of the military. We underscore, we stress that peaceful protesters should never be subject to violence or intimidation, whether that’s on the part of a military force or civilian unit,” the US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said at a press briefing.

Price went on to reiterate the US’ concerns about the “escalating violence” in Sri Lanka over the past couple of days.“We call for a full investigation, arrests, and prosecution of anyone instigating and involved in acts of violence,” the American official added.

“We are, as I said before, also closely monitoring the deployment of troops, something that is of concern to us, and we’re also closely following political developments and the situation on the ground in Sri Lanka after the resignation of the prime minister [Mahinda Rajapaksa],” Price added.

The State Department also called upon Sri Lanka’s political leadership to work towards ensuring “public safety” and solutions to achieve “long-term economic growth and political stability” in the island nation.“The government must consider the Sri Lankan people’s discontent over the economic crisis, including power, food, and medicine shortages, as well as their concerns about the political future of their country,” Price added.

Concerns over the military deployment have also been expressed by opposition leaders in Sri Lanka. Sajith Premadasa, the leader of opposition, on Tuesday accused the government of trying to incite violence so it could move towards establishing “military rule” in the nation.

Concerns over the military deployment have also been expressed by opposition leaders in Sri Lanka. Sajith Premadasa, the leader of opposition, on Tuesday accused the government of trying to incite violence so it could move towards establishing “military rule” in the nation.

Sri Lankan defence forces were called to “assist the police” in maintaining security and ensuring public safety on 9 May, according to an official release.
The military support was summoned after protests which began last month over the economic crisis turned deadly when supporters of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa reportedly travelled to Colombo and Galle and attacked anti-government demonstrators using sticks and stones.
The attacks led to counter-attacks by the anti-government demonstrators, with violence soon spreading to other parts of the island.
Properties of lawmakers and former ministers belonging to Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party were also torched by enraged mobs in different parts of the country.
According to local reports, at least eight people have died and more than 220 have been injured in clashes between protesters and supporters of Rajapaksa.
Although Rajapaksa stepped down on Monday evening and his resignation was published in the official gazette on the same day, protests continued with demonstrators and opposition parties also urging President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to steps because of how the government has mishandled the economy.
The Indian Foreign Ministry has expressed New Delhi’s support for “democracy, stability and economic recovery” of Sri Lanka.
“India will always be guided by the best interests of the Sri Lankan people expressed through democratic processes,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in response to the outbreak of violence in Sri Lanka.
China, Sri Lanka’s biggest lender, has said it is “closely monitoring” the ongoing developments in the country.

“We believe that with the joint efforts of all sectors of Sri Lanka, the country will regain peace and stability as soon as possible,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a briefing on 10 May.

Source: Sputnik

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