COLOMBO, JUNE 2, REUTER — Marxist rebels, defying police shoot to kill orders, launched attacks on polling stations in an effort to disrupt elections to two provincial councils in Sri Lanka on Thursday, but voting went ahead despite them.
Officials said rebels of the Sinhalese based People’s Liberation Front (JVP) attacked polling stations with guns, hand grenades and bombs, killing one policeman and wounding one.
Troops and police, ordered to shoot troublemakers on sight, patrolled the streets and guarded voting booths against the JVP, which has been blamed for the killings of 20 candidates since campaigning began in March.
They had put up posters telling people not to vote. “The first 10 to vote will be shot dead,” said one.
“Some voters were scared away, but many others turned up,” one official said. He said heavy rain in some areas also damped the turnout in elections for two of the nine provincial councils which are key elements in a pact signed by Sri Lankan President Junius Jaya: warbene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi,
The JVP opposes the semiautonomous councils established under last July’s pact aimed at ending a long and bloody Tamil rebellion by giving the Tamils more say over their own affairs.
After a dry-long spate of Violence on Wednesday in which they attacked trains and burnt buses and government buildings, the JVP rebels started attacking polling booths in the central and western provinces shortly after midnight. .
Officials said a policeman guarding a polling station at Matugama on the outskirts of Colombo was killed by attacking rebels after a 10minute exchange of gunfire.
Article extracted from this publication >> June 10, 1988