Over 180 injured; nationwide curfew imposed
Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday after clinging on to power for weeks, following unprecedented anti-government protests demanding his ouster as well as the administration led by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country’s worst economic crisis that led to acute shortages of staple food, fuel and power.
A ruling-party MP were among five people killed during the clashes, the police said.
Mahinda’s resignation came hours after his supporters attacked anti-regime protesters outside President Gotabaya’s office, leaving around 187 people injured and triggering widespread violence against pro-Rajapaksa politicians. At least four people, including a ruling party MP, were killed in the subsequent violence.
Prime Minister Mahinda, 76, sent his resignation letter to President Gotabaya after violent scenes were witnessed in Colombo.
Mahinda in his resignation letter said that he is stepping down to pave the way for the All-Party Interim Government to be formed. He said that he will be “ready to make any sacrifice even in the future in order to help the people and the government overcome the present crisis.”
The Cabinet was also dissolved with the resignation of the Prime Minister.
Earlier, Mahinda’s supporters attacked anti-government protesters at MynaGoGama and GotaGoGama protest sites. The tents opposite Temple Trees, the official residence of the prime minister, were dismantled by a mob.
Police used water cannons to disperse the unruly ruling party protestors. The police formed a human chain to prevent the protesters from entering GotaGoGama. However, the mob pushed their way past the police human chain and attacked GotaGoGama. Around 173 people were injured in the attack.
Army were deployed to the protest sites to bring the situation under control. Curfew, which was initially declared in the national capital, was imposed islandwide with immediate effect, a police spokesperson said.
According to local media, police fired tear gas twice to disperse a mob that attempted to force their way into Temple Trees.
According to reports, Amarakeerthi Athukorala, a ruling member of parliament, from the Polonnaruwa district opened fire and critically wounded two people blocking his car in the town of Nittambuwa when his car was surrounded by anti-government groups. One of the victims died of his injuries.
Later, when the angry mobs toppled the car, he fled and took refuge in a building and committed suicide by pulling his own revolver. Later, the lawmaker and his personal security officer were found dead, the police said.
In a separate case, two people were killed and nine others injured in a shooting at the residence of the Chairman of the Weeraketiya Pradeshiya Sabha, police said.
Ancestral home of Rajapaksas set on fire: The ancestral home of the Rajapaksas in Hambantota has been set on fire by a group of anti-government protestors, hours after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday.
Video footage showed the entire house of Prime Minister Rajapaksa and his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in Medamulana in Hambantota city was burning away as protestors hooted away, the Daily Mirror reported.
Prime Minister’s in Kurunegala was also set on fire by protesters while a mob also destroyed D A Rajapaksa Memorial- constructed in the memory of the father of Mahinda.