Curfew imposed in Sri Lanka after five killed in night of violence

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nationwide curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka on Monday amid an outbreak of violent protest which killed five people and injured more than 200 people.

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Thousands of defied curfew to set homes, shops and businesses belonging to ruling party lawmakers ablaze.

The country’s Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned Monday, after weeks of unprecedented demonstrations in which called for him to stand down over the country’s economic woes.

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His brother, the country’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has so far resisted demands to also resign, and it would be tricky for parliament to aust him.

Streets were calmer on Tuesday in Colombo, the country’s largest city, but there was still “sporadic unrest”, said police.

“The situation is calmer now, though there are still reports of sporadic unrest,” police and Nihal Thalduwa told Reuters. Around five people, including a party lawmaker, were killed in clashes and about 200 injured, he said.

No arrests have yet been made in the isolated incidents of violence, he said, adding that three of the deaths had been from gunshot injuries.

Police standing guard outside the president’s office

, AFP via Getty Images

Lawmaker Amarakeerthi Athukorale and his bodyguard were killed in Nittambuwa, some 20 miles north of Colombo, after the car they were traveling in was intercepted by an angry crowd.

The attacks on government figures came in apparent reprisal after the prime minister’s supporters, many armed with iron bars, stormed a camp of those protesting against the government, beating them and setting fire to their tents.

The protests marked a dramatic fall from favor of the Rajapaksas, Sri Lanka’s most powerful political dynasty for decades.

The brothers were once praised by the majority of the island’s Buddhist-Sinhalese for ending the country’s 30-year civil war, and despite allegations of war atrocities, were firmly entrenched at the top of Sri Lankan politics.

The prime minister’s resignation comes amid a rapidly worsening economy in Sri Lanka.

Shortages of essentials such as fuel and milk, as well as rolling power cuts, have taken their toll, while doctors have also warned of shortages of life-saving medicines in hospitals.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had initially blamed Sri Lanka’s economic woes on global factors like a tourism downturn and the Ukraine conflict pushing up global oil prices.

However, both he and his brother have since admitted to mistakes that exacerbated the crisis, including conceding they should have sought an International Monetary Fund bailout sooner.

Sri Lanka has been holding talks with the IMF to set up a rescue plan but its progress depends on negotiations on debt restructuring with creditors. Any long-term plan would take at least six months to get underway.

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Source: www.standard.co.uk

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