Voting begins in Sri Lankan Parliamentary election

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1. Various, security removing posters from wall
2. Security outside polling centre
3. People queuing outside polling centre
4. Various, queuing women with polling cards
5. Various, men queuing outside polling centre
6. Men queuing for ballot papers
7. Man voting
8. Pull out from voters hands being marked
9. Various, women collecting ballot papers
10. Women having hands marked
11. Woman watching as hand is marked
12. Wide shot, voting taking place

STORYLINE:

Sri Lankans began voting on Wednesday for a new Parliament, with soldiers and police
guarding polling centres after one of this tropical island nation’s most violent election campaigns.

At least three people were killed in overnight clashes, taking the total number of deaths in election-related violence to 45 since campaigning began on October 21.

Some of the voters, responding to the Election Commission’s advice to cast their ballots early, started lining up in front of polling centres before 7 am (0100 GMT) when polls opened.

At Athanagalle, 50 kilometres (31 miles) northeast of Colombo and the constituency where President Chandrika Kumaratunga is registered as a voter, more than 250 out of total 1,735 registered voters at one centre had cast their ballots in the first 30 minutes.

The advice to cast ballots early was given to keep corrupt political activists from impersonating voters and stealing their franchise at nearly 10,000 polling centres in this nation of 18.6 (m) million people off the southern coast of India.

The main election issues for the 12.4 (m) million eligible voters are the sinking economy and whether to seek peace or intensify the 18-year war against the Tamil Tiger rebels who want to divide the country along ethnic lines.

Vote counting was due to begin at 4 pm. (1000 GMT) after the close of polls, with mailed ballots available first and the results expected on Thursday or Friday.

Soldiers were assigned to help 40,000 policemen guard the polling stations against gangs trying to intimidate voters, stuff ballot boxes, or steal them.

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