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Sri Lankan economic crisis: A political office of the Rajapaksas was also destroyed in an arson attack.


At least five people were killed and nearly 200 injured in Sri Lanka on Monday in a wave of violence between government supporters and protesters demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

As the fighting spread, authorities imposed an indefinite curfew across the country of 22 million people and called in the military to help contain the violence.

However, anti-government protesters who had been demonstrating peacefully since April 9 began to retaliate across the island.

These are the key incidents:

– MP shoots protesters –

Leaving the capital Colombo on Monday, ruling party lawmaker Amarakeerthi Athukorala opened fire on protesters blocking his vehicle, killing a 27-year-old man and wounding two others.

Police said the parliamentarian then took his own life. The MP’s bodyguard was also killed, but it is not clear how.

– Rajapaksa Museum destroyed –

Mobs attacked the controversial Rajapaksa museum in the ruling family’s ancestral village of Meda Mulana in the south of the island and razed it to the ground, police said.

Two wax statues of Rajapaksa’s parents were smashed and the building was smashed by mobs.

A court case is pending over the alleged use of state funds to build the museum, which cost more than half a million dollars.

Police said former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s house in his Hambantota constituency was also attacked on Monday night. He had resigned from his post as prime minister that very day.

A political office of the Rajapaksas in the northwestern city of Kurunegala was also destroyed in an arson attack, police said.

– Burned houses –

Mobs set fire to a truck used by security forces to block the main entrance to the prime minister’s official residence, Temple Trees, a key symbol of state power on the South Asian island.

Police fired tear gas and shots into the air to drive back the crowd, as thousands of protesters poured through the front gate.

Angry mobs stormed the house of Sanath Nishantha, a ruling party lawmaker, in Puttalam district and set it on fire after damaging property and vehicles.

Nishantha was seen with a group storming the anti-government “Gota Go Home” campaign in the capital.

The office and home of Johnston Fernando, a strong Rajapaksa supporter, was set on fire in the town of Kurunegala, police said, adding that more than a dozen vehicles were set on fire.

And the house of Saman Lal Fernando, mayor in the Colombo suburb of Moratuwa, was set on fire hours after he took eight buses full of municipal workers to show solidarity with the Rajapaksas.

A tourist hotel owned by a close associate of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s sons was also set on fire, along with a Lamborghini car parked inside. There were no casualties among the foreign guests, police said.

– Hospital locked down –

Doctors from the main National Hospital in Colombo intervened to rescue government supporters who were injured in clashes with anti-Rajapaksa protesters.

“They may be killers, but for us they are patients who must be treated first,” a doctor shouted to a crowd blocking the entrance to the emergency unit.

Soldiers had to break locks to force open the doors and enter the hospital to bring in wounded government supporters.

– dive into the lake –

Enraged anti-government protesters pushed scores of people into the shallow Beira Lake near the Temple Trees residence.

“I came because I got a job from Mahinda (Rajapaksa),” one man said, pleading to be allowed out of the highly polluted lake.

Police tried to rescue the man and more than a dozen others, but they were outnumbered by anti-government activists.

Three vans were also dumped in the lake, along with two buses used to transport Rajapaksa loyalists.

– Buses burned, damaged –

Dozens of buses used by Rajapaksa supporters to travel to Colombo that same day were set on fire or damaged.

In the suburb of Maharagama, a mob forced a pro-government group leader off his bus and threw him into a garbage cart, before ramming the vehicle with a bulldozer.

In the heart of the capital, three buses used to transport Rajapaksa loyalists were damaged. Police said mobs had also taken over major highway exits to attack government supporters leaving the capital.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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