Curfew extended in Sri Lanka after deadly clashes

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Sri Lanka rolled out military vehicles on the streets Wednesday and a curfew was extended by an extra day after violent protests this week across the coun-try.

Sri Lanka’s going through its worst economic crisis in history and demonstrators’ patience wore thin this week.

Protesters and a key trade group have called for a new government. And after a series of deadly clashes on Monday that left the capital Colombo’s streets full of debris as well as burnt-out vehicles and homes, the government has ordered troops to shoot at anyone damaging public property or threatening lives.

Monday saw ruling party supporters attack an anti-government protest camp, sparking violence.

It appeared to trigger a string of clashes that left several people dead and over 200 injured. Thousands of protesters defied the curfew to attack officials, setting ablaze shops and businesses and the offices of the ruling party lawmakers and provincial politicians.

Sri Lanka’s prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned this week after the clashes between pro- and anti-government protesters.

But protesters say that’s not enough and have called for his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to stand down as president too.

The crisis facing the island nation of 22 million people has seen power cuts, as well as shortages of imported essentials from medicines to fuel.

Sri Lankans have blamed the Rajapaksa dynasty for the economic meltdown that has left the country with only $50 million in reserves.

India has provided more than $3.5 billion in as-sistance, as the country began delayed talks with the International Monetary Fund for a rescue package that kicked off on Monday.

Hundreds of protesters continued to chant slo-gans against the Sri Lankan government defying a nationwide curfew a day after violent clashes in the crisis-hit nation.

Protesters set ablaze homes and businesses be-longing to ruling party lawmakers and regional poli-ticians. Seven people died in the unrest and more than 200 were injured, local police said.

Violent clashes saw the resignation of the prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is blamed, along with his brother, the president, for plunging the country into its worst economic crisis in decades.

Imports of everything from milk to fuel have fallen, resulting in dire food shortages and rolling power cuts. People have been queuing for hours to buy essentials.

Doctors have warned of crippling shortages of life-saving drugs in hospitals, and the government has suspended payments on $70bn in foreign debt due this year alone.

Protesters swarmed the entrance to president Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office in the capital, Colombo, on Tuesday for the 32nd day to demand that he follow in his brother’s footsteps and quit.

A government decree issued Monday night con-firmed the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the prime minister.

His departure came after violence erupted in front of the Rajapaksas’ offices as his supporters attacked protesters with wooden and iron poles. Authorities swiftly deployed armed troops in many parts of the country and imposed a curfew until Wednesday.—AP

 

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