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* One dead, two injured in poll violence in Sri Lanka as polling ends
Sat, Jul 23, 2011, 07:00 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 23, Anuradhapura: One person died and two others were injured and admitted to the hospital this morning in election related violence as the polling for 65 local government bodies got underway to elect 875 members to 65 local government bodies .

The death and the attacks took place when two groups of supporters for two candidates of the ruling United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) clashed at Paniyankadawala in Anuradhapura district.

The deceased is a father of two children, police said.

The polls ended at 4 pm today with complaints of many irregularities from the minor parties, mainly in the North where elections were held for the first time after 29 years.

An estimated 60 percent of the 2.5 million eligible voters have turned out to cast their ballots throughout the island.

The major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has complained of people dressed in military uniforms grabbing polling cards and intimidating voters.

The election monitoring group, People's Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFREL) said there were allegations of election law violations in the North.

PAFFREL spokesman Rohana Hettiarachchi said they received reports of people distributing food to the voters in Kilinochchi in return for the polling cards. "This is a clear violation of election laws," he said.

Election watch dog, Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) said late on Friday, a group of unidentified armed men went to more than 20 villages trying to forcibly grab polling cards from voters.

"The people who refused to give away their polling cards were beaten up and threatened to cut their throats out," CaFFE said.

The Election Commissioner Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday urged the voters to cast their ballots early in the day to prevent election malpractices.

The government deployed a contingency of 20,000 police officers to provide security and ensure a free and fair election.

The Army deployed soldiers to provide heavy security throughout the Jaffna peninsula where polls were held to elect members for 19 local bodies.

The ruling party led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa carried out a massive campaign in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province, with President himself campaigning in the former rebel strongholds for three days.

A victory for the ruling party in the Tamil-dominated districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu will be an endorsement for the government's reconciliation process which has come under criticism from the West.

Election commissioner Mahinda Desappriya has said the first result can be released by 10 pm Saturday. The final results are expected by tomorrow morning.



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