Sri Lanka gov't supporters attack protesting Buddhist monks, villagers

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    Sri Lanka government supporters attacked protesting Buddhist monks and villagers with clubs on Saturday as they marched against what they say is a plan to take over private land for an industrial zone in which China will have a major stake.

    Police intervened and separated the attackers, but a scheduled opening of the industrial zone by Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe was held up due to the unrest.

    The government has signed a framework agreement for a 99-year lease of the Hambantota port with a company in which China will have 80-percent ownership. Officials also plan to set up the nearby industrial zone where Chinese companies will be invited to set up factories.

    The violence erupted in Amabalantota, some 22 kilometers (13 miles) from the port city of Hambantota, when villagers and monks marched near the opening ceremony demanding their residential and farm lands be spared.

    It was unclear if anyone was injured. A court has issued a restraining order on the protest, saying it could lead to unrest.

    China invested over $1.2 billion in the port in what some analysts call its “string of pearls” strategy in countries surrounding its rival India….



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