Asia - Pacific

Army patrolling streets in Sri Lanka after 8 killed in deadly clashes

Ruling party parliamentarian, police officer among dead, while over 230 people injured in Monday's violent protests, arson attacks amid economic woes

Islamuddin Sajid   | 10.05.2022
Army patrolling streets in Sri Lanka after 8 killed in deadly clashes

ISLAMABAD

Thousands of soldiers flanked by police patrolled the streets of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital, on Tuesday to enforce a curfew, a day after violent clashes between security forces and protesters killed eight people, including a ruling party parliamentarian and a police officer, according to local media.

According to the News First website, 231 people were injured in the Monday clashes and rushed to different hospitals, with 218 of them still receiving treatment at the Colombo National Hospital.

Sri Lanka’s Defense Ministry announced that the country’s armed forces have been given order to open fire at anyone looting property or causing harm.

Clashes broke out in the city as pro-government supporters attacked opposition leaders and activists protesting the country's ongoing economic crisis. To disperse the protests, police fired rounds into the air and sprayed tear gas, injuring over a dozen people.

On Monday, Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down as prime minister amid the crisis, submitting his resignation letter to President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, his younger brother. Many have called on the influential family to quit for mismanaging the economy.

The angry protesters also burnt down dozens of vehicles and set fire to the ancestral home of the president and former prime minister in Medamulana on Monday night, according to media reports.

According to the Daily Mirror, a 24-year-old police officer who was injured in the clashes died on Tuesday while being treated at the Colombo National Hospital, and another person lost his breath due to a cardiac ailment.

The News First reported that Amarakeerthi Athukorala, a parliamentarian from the ruling party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People's Front), and his security guard were killed on Monday afternoon in Nittambuwa, a semi-urban town of the Gampaha district.

Those accompanying Athukorala fired on a gathering of people assembled in Nittambuwa to condemn the attack on peaceful protesters in front of the Temple Trees and the President's Office in Colombo, the daily said, quoting eyewitnesses.

One person was killed and four others were injured in an arson attack on a popular hotel in Negombo on the west coast, according to the daily.

Separately, Sarath Kumara, the chairman of the Imaduwa suburb administration in the southwestern coastal city of Galle, succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday after his house was stormed by the protesters a day earlier.

Two people were also killed and five others were injured on Monday in a shooting at the chairman of the local government in the Weeraketiya town of the Hambantota district, according to the News First. The violent protesters also attacked and set on fire the houses of former Cabinet ministers in different areas of the city. Kumara Welgama, a former minister, was also injured when some protesters stormed his car.

Protest continues

Despite a curfew and military patrols, hundreds of protesters gathered at Colombo's Bandaranaike International Airport and blocked the entry following reports that the former prime minister and several ministers were fleeing the country.

According to a video posted by the Daily Mirror, the former prime minister's family members are allegedly being transferred by an Air Force helicopter from his residence to an unknown location.

Sri Lanka has defaulted on all of its foreign debt as the island nation suffers from the worst economic crisis in decades, sparking enormous protests. Its foreign reserves fell as a result of a sharp decline in tourism activities during the coronavirus outbreak.

The government has approached the International Monetary Fund to help it pay for imports of food, medicines, and fuel.

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