Sri Lanka’s defense ministry on Tuesday ordered security forces to open fire on protesters after at least eight people were killed and more than 100 injured in a national uprising that toppled the country’s prime minister.
Pro-government clashes erupted on Monday after peaceful protesters set up camp near the home of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during the worst economic crisis in Sri Lanka’s history.
Rajapaksa finally resigned after violence erupted across the country on Monday, killing at least eight people – including a ruling party lawmaker and two police officers – and injuring 219 and burning more than 100 buildings and 60 vehicles, according to official figures.
But after Rajapaksa’s resignation, violence at his home escalated, with at least 10 Molotov cocktails being thrown and protesters breaking through a security gate, the Telegraph reported.
Hundreds of soldiers fired tear gas, water cannons and warning shots to take the recently resigned political leader and his family to an unknown safe house, the UK paper said.
Within hours, the rest of his cabinet resigned.
But the violence only continued on Tuesday in defiance of a strict curfew as anti-government mobs called for the removal of the former prime minister’s younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The Defense Ministry said Tuesday that thousands of soldiers had been “ordered to shoot if they saw anyone looting or damaging civilian property.”
Among those attacked was Colombo’s most senior police officer, Senior Deputy Inspector-General Deshbandhu Tenakun, when a mob surrounded and set fire to a car, the Agence France-Presse reported.
Tenakun was rescued by officers who fired shots into the air to intimidate the crowd, he was rushed to hospital and released shortly after treatment, the outlet said.
The violence comes just months after growing outrage over economic instability in Sri Lanka that has led to dire food shortages and rolling power cuts.
People have been forced to stand in line for hours to buy essentials, and doctors have warned of a life-threatening drug crisis in hospitals.
The prime minister’s call for ousting the president and ousting the president marks a dramatic decline for Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s most powerful political dynasty for decades.
President Rajapaksa has initially blamed global factors for Sri Lanka’s economic woes, such as the epidemic in its tourism industry and the Russia-Ukraine conflict that have pushed up global oil prices.
But both he and his brother have acknowledged the mistakes that exacerbated the crisis, acknowledging that they should have sought a bailout of the International Monetary Fund soon.
With post cable