Salawa victims protest and demand compensation

Kosgama Salawa campHundreds protested today demanding that the Government speed up paying compensation to those whose houses were damaged by an explosion in an army camp in Salawa five months ago.

About 200 demonstrators gathered in front of the Fort railway station to call for swift measures to pay the compensation, the Associated Press reported.

The explosion at the Salawa army camp, 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Colombo, in June killed one soldier. Eight others, including seven civilians, were injured. The explosions sent shrapnel and munitions flying into the surrounding area, damaging 2,031 houses.

Military spokesman Brig Roshan Seneviratne said, soldiers had repaired 1,031 homes with minor damages and handed them back to the owners. He said the compensation process is handled by district administrative officials. People whose homes were destroyed are living in rented houses and the government is paying the rent.

Hemantha Rodrigo, who organizes a victims group, said the homeowners face hardships because the government has failed to pay compensation as promised. He said some people have been paid compensation for their homes, but have not been paid to replace household items and equipment. Government officials could not be reached for immediate comment.

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