Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence was stormed by hundreds of people on Thursday, with at least one man gravely injured, as citizens lambasted the government’s handling of the country’s terrible economic situation.
Security personnel fired live rounds or rubber bullets into the throng, as well as tear gas and water cannon, to disperse the protesters seeking Rajapaksa’s resignation.
Protesters set fire to an army bus and a police car placed across the highway leading to Rajapaksa’s residence in Colombo’s Mirihana residential neighborhood. They also collapsed a neighbor’s wall and attacked policemen and troops with stones.
According to AFP, Rajapaksa was not at home during the brawl, but top military officials convened to address the situation.
Following the incident, the capital was placed under an indefinite curfew. The area remained closed to automobiles four hours after the demonstration began.
“Our area is blocked, so I can’t get home,” one resident told AFP. “The president and his family are being yelled at to resign.”
The 22-million-strong South Asian nation is experiencing its worst downturn since independence, owing to a severe scarcity of foreign currency to pay for even the most basic goods.
According to government and media reports, diesel — the principal fuel for buses and commercial vehicles — was unavailable at stations around the island on Thursday, paralyzing public transportation.
The event was organized by unidentified social media users who expressed their displeasure with Rajapaksa and his family.
After what journalists claimed was government coercion, a live broadcast of the rally by a private television network unexpectedly ended.
Men and women were seen chanting “crazy, lunatic, go home” and demanding that all members of the strong Rajapaksa family stand down in videos published on social media.
Mahinda, the president’s older brother, is prime minister, while Basil, the president’s younger brother, is in charge of finance. Chamal, the elder brother, is the agricultural minister, while Namal, the nephew, is the sports minister.
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