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Sri Lankan security forces shoot dead protestor whilst others remain critical

Sri Lankan security forces have fired at protestors in Rambukkana, leading to at least one person being confirmed dead and several others in critical condition.

There are fears that the death toll may rise, with the number of injured people estimated to be at approximately 12. The deceased man has since been identified as a former member of the United National Party's Youth Wing.

Mihiri Priyangani, director of the Kegalle Teaching Hospital, told Reuters that they could not yet confirm the exact cause of death of the man but they "are suspecting gunshot injuries".

The killing would be the first death since anti-government protests erupted earlier this month.

Tear gas was reportedly fired at the protestors, as tensions flared in the southern town.  Video footage that has been widely shared, shows a police officer instructing others in riot gear to “fire, fire and chase them out”.

"Police had to fire to control the protesters," police spokesman Nihal Talduwa told the BBC. "They set fire to some tyres too, so police had to fire to disperse them."

Several photographs shared on social media show spent cases from live ammunition, fired by the Sri Lankan security forces.

Video footage from Rambukkana, also shows injured protestors being carried to seek medical attention.

The killings have sparked international calls for an investigation into the shooting.

The US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung has called for a “full, transparent investigation” whilst Amnesty International tweeted that it “is concerned about the disturbing reports” of the shooting, adding “authorities must always exercise restraint and use no more force than is strictly necessary”.

Read more: US Ambassador calls for ‘full transparent investigation’ into Sri Lankan shooting as outrage grows

Sri Lankan police shootings are relatively rare in the Sinhala south, although brutality and killings by the security forces are more common in the Tamil North-East.

Earlier this year, protests broke out in Jaffna after anger over the killing of a prominent Tamil protestor by the Sri Lankan navy. Last year, a Tamil man was shot in the head and killed by security forces outside of the Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Sathasivam Viyalendiran's house in Batticaloa. The killing sparked widespread outrage. In June last year,  22-year old Chandran Vithusan was beaten to death by Sri Lankan police officers in Batticaloa. His parents told reporters that the Sri Lankan police officer responsible boasted of the killing, claiming it was his 9th murder and that there was nothing that could be done about it. In February last year, Sri Lankan army officers shot at three unarmed Tamil men in Vavuniya, leaving one of them hospitalised. 

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