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Expressing concern over the violence which broke out during a protest in Weliweriya, the US today urged the Sri Lankan Government to respect the rights of people to protest peacefully.

“The U.S. Embassy is concerned about the violence in yesterday’s protest in Weliweriya, and urges the Government of Sri Lanka to respect the rights of people to protest peacefully, and urges restraint from all sides,” the embassy in Colombo said in a release.

One person reportedly died and over 20 others were injured and hospitalized due to a clash with police and army personnel during a protest by residents of Weliweriya, Rathupaswala and surrounding villages regarding a water crisis.

The residents claim that the chemical waste of a factory has polluted their drinking water.

Police had used tear gas and water cannons to disperse residents of the area who were blocking the road in protest of the issue.

Army personnel were later called in to assist the police in dispersing the protestors, which had resulted in a tense situation as they refused abandon the agitation.