Colombo - Five people were killed and more than 225 wounded in a wave of violence in Sri Lanka where the prime minister resigned after weeks of protests over the worsening economic crisis. As clashes spread late into Monday night, authorities imposed an indefinite curfew across the nation of 22 million people and called in the military to help contain the violence.
Anti-government protesters who had been demonstrating peacefully since April 9 began retaliating after they were attacked by supporters of outgoing premier Mahinda Rajapaksa. Here are the main incidents: - Leaving the capital Colombo on Monday, ruling-party legislator Amarakeerthi Athukorala opened fire on demonstrators blocking his vehicle, killing a 27-year-old man and wounding two others. Police said the MP later took his own life, but the party said he had been murdered. The lawmaker's bodyguard was also killed, but it was not clear how.
A provincial politician from Rajapaksa's party who has not been named shot dead two and wounded three people in the southern town of Weeraketiya on Monday. He is missing. - Politicians' homes burned - At least 41 homes of top ruling party politicians were torched overnight despite curfews.
Hundreds of motorcycles parked in those homes were also burnt. "This is something we should have done earlier," an unidentified man in front of a burning home of a minister told a local media network. "We are sorry we couldn't burn it sooner." The home and shrine of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's personal shaman, Gnana Akka, were destroyed in an arson attack in the north-central town of Anuradhapura. -
Mobs attacked a museum about the Rajapaksas in the ruling family's ancestral village of Meda Mulana in the deep south of the island and razed it to the ground, police said. Two wax statues of the Rajapaksa parents were flattened and mobs trashed the building as well as the nearby ancestral Rajapaksa home. A political office of the Rajapaksas in the northwestern town of Kurunegala was also destroyed in an arson attack.
Mobs set fire to a truck used by the security forces to block the main entrance to the prime minister's official Temple Trees residence in Colombo, a key symbol of state power in the South Asian island. Police lobbed tear gas and fired shots into the air to beat back the crowds, as thousands of protesters breached the main gate. The outgoing premier was evacuated by the military before dawn on Tuesday. Some of the tear gas canisters hit the US embassy compound across the road from Temple Trees, but there were no reports of casualties. A hotel owned by a close associate of Mahinda Rajapaksa's children was also set ablaze, along with a Lamborghini car parked inside.
There were no casualties among foreign guests, police said. - Hospital blocked - Doctors at the main Colombo National Hospital intervened to rescue government supporters who were wounded in clashes with anti-Rajapaksa demonstrators. "They may be murderers, but for us, they are patients who must be treated first," a doctor shouted at a crowd blocking the entrance to the emergency unit. A total of 219 were admitted to the Colombo National Hospital alone, with five in intensive care, hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa told AFP on Tuesday. Soldiers had to break the locks to force open the gates and enter the hospital to bring in wounded government supporters.
Enraged anti-government protesters pushed dozens of people into the shallow Beira Lake near the Temple Trees residence. "I came because I got a job from Mahinda (Rajapaksa)," a man said, as he pleaded to be allowed out of the highly polluted lake. Police rescued the man and more than a dozen others late on Monday night and admitted them to hospital. Six vehicles, including two buses used to transport Rajapaksa loyalists were also submerged.
Dozens of buses used by Rajapaksa supporters to travel to Colombo earlier in the day were torched or damaged across the country. In the suburb of Maharagama, a crowd forced a leader of a pro-government group out of a bus and threw him into a garbage cart, before ramming the vehicle with a bulldozer.