Sri Lanka acts against factory after fatal protest

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president said he would either shut or relocate a factory alleged to have polluted drinking water amid intense criticism of his government’s handling of a protest against the facility in which the military killed three people.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa told residents of Weliweriya on Monday that tests would be conducted to determine whether the factory is responsible for polluting the town’s water supply, the president’s office said in a statement. If the factory is not found to be responsible for the water crisis, it will be moved away from a residential area to an industrial zone.

Rajapaksa’s government has come under heavy criticism for deploying the military to break up a peaceful protest Aug. 1, resulting in the fatal shooting of two teenagers and a 29-year-old man. Dozens of other people were injured as soldiers shot indiscriminately and beat them up with poles, according to witnesses.

Sri Lanka’s Roman Catholic church also accused the military of breaking into St. Anthony’s Church in Weliweriya, located outside of Colombo, the capital, and beating up people who had sought refuge there and threatening clergy.

Sri Lankan government ministers have blamed unnamed third parties wanting a change in government of instigating the protesters.

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