UK & World News
Panama Canal: Protests Over Land Sell-Off
A 10-year-old boy has been killed during violent protests in the Panamanian port city of Colon.
The child was shot once in the stomach and died in hospital - at least six other people were treated for gunshot wounds and several others for pellet wounds, one doctor revealed.
The protesters were demonstrating over a new law allowing the sale of state-owned land in the duty-free zone next to the Panama Canal.
Anti-riot police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse hundreds of people who burned tyres and threw objects at police in Colon's city centre and a curfew was declared on Friday afternoon.
The rioting came a few hours after the National Assembly approved legislation to allow the sale of land in the duty-free zone to private companies already leasing land there to handle the import and export of goods. President Ricardo Martinelli signed the law hours later.
Protesters say the land is already being rented and it makes no sense to sell it. They say the government should instead raise the rent and invest the money in Colon, a poor and violent city.
"We do not want the land to be sold because these are assets that belong to Colon," said Felipe Cabezas, head of the Colonense Broad Movement.
"Why sell if the country is not going through economic problems?"
The duty-free zone has about 2,000 companies that rent land and employ 30,000 people, according to authorities.
The government estimates land sales could raise $2bn (£1.2bn) over the next 20 years.