Hundreds of people stormed the head office of Sri Lanka's largest private broadcaster on Monday and hurled stones at the building, smashing windows and damaging parked cars, witnesses said.
The attack by an estimated 200 people on the pro-opposition network came as the campaign for parliamentary polls on April 8 hots up.
Witnesses also said the attackers shouted slogans against the Maharaja Broadcasting and Television (MBC/MTV) Network's sponsorship of a concert by R&B singer Akon next month. Many people in the Buddhist-majority nation say a recent music video starring Akon defames the Buddha.
Officials at MBC/MTV, which runs three TV and four radio stations from its headquarters in central Colombo, said four employees were injured.
"The entire head office came under attack and our guys got hit with rocks," Chevaan Daniel, the head of news at MBC/MTV, told Reuters at the scene.
The network aired visuals of the attack, clearly showing people throwing stones at the building.
Prashantha Jayakody, a police spokesman, said he was not aware of the incident.
A Reuters reporter saw some attackers being dragged away by police amid shattered glass outside of the office and damaged vehicles.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Over 100 incidents of violence related to the April 8 parliamentary election having been recorded since the parliament was dissolved in February, election monitoring groups said on Monday.
"We have recorded 159 incidents up to yesterday (Sunday)," D. M. Dissanayake, the coordinator of the Center For Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) said.
The Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) said 127 incidents have been recorded.
Both monitors agreed that Central Province had been the most violent province followed by North Western Province.
"Most of these violence are directed at candidates of the same party," Dissanayake said.
Candidates of the same party are involved in expensive propaganda campaigns in order to win preference votes.
According to Sri Lanka's election system, the candidate with highest number of preference votes gets elected to parliament.
These individual campaigns give rise to violence as fellow candidates' material are either defaced or destroyed.
Activists face physical assaults too.
The police said some 65 people have already been arrested in connection with election related violence.
Election officials said 7,620 candidates are running for the parliament's 225 seats elected for a six-year term.
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