Violence has gripped Sri Lanka forcing former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family to flee and take shelter at a naval base in Trincomalee.
The violence, which has so far claimed eight lives, began when supporters of PM Rajapaksa attacked peaceful anti-government protestors in Colombo after Rajapaksa announced his resignation.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is still in power despite calls for him to step down as Sri Lanka faces power blackouts and resource shortages triggered by an economic crisis.
Economic mismanagement by successive governments plus the country's tourism industry crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic has left the country grappling.
Several cite that the crisis was in the making but election campaign announcements like deep tax cuts, banning chemical fertilisers by the current President Gotabaya Rajapaksa accelerated the economic downfall. The crisis has led to Sri Lankans not being able to afford fuel, dal, rice and even medicines.
Queues going about kilometres mark fuel stations and small business owners have to deal with constant power cuts.
What Triggered The Violence In Sri Lanka?
On May 9, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa announced his resignation on Twitter. Mahinda Rajapaksa's resignation was the result of sustained protests calling for the resignation of the Rajapaksa clan for their disastrous handling of the Sri Lankan economy.
Even as Mahinda Rajapaksa announced his resignation, government supporters took to the streets and attacked anti-government protesters, prompting authorities to deploy armed troops in the capital, Colombo.
What Happened On May 9?
Amarakeerthi Athukorala, a Member of Parliament belonging to the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party, shot at two protestors blocking his car and killing a 27-year-old man.
Police told AFP that Athukorala fled and sought refuge in a nearby building which was surrounded by protestors. Police found him dead after he shot himself with his revolver.
Protestors alleged that supporters of Mahinda Rajapaksa were brought into Colombo in buses after which they targetted anti-government protestors sitting outside the official residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Mahinda Rajapaksa's house in Kurunegala was also torched by protestors while the D.A. Rajapaksa Memorial in Hambantota built in memory of Mahinda and Gotbaya's father was destroyed.
According to media reports, protestors also attacked the houses of numerous MPs and mayors.
Anti-government protestors destroyed many buses which allegedly ferried Rajapaksa supporters with video reports showing buses being taken apart using bulldozers and thrown into the Beira lake.
Protestors also allegedly torched the Ancestral home of the Rajapaksa family in Medamulana in the southern town of Hambantota.
According to AFP, at least 138 injured people were admitted to the Colombo National Hospital.
How Did The Government And Opposition Respond?
The Sri Lankan government granted emergency powers to the military and police to detain people without warrants and search private properties by force.
Sri Lanka's Attorney General has ordered the police chief to conduct an urgent full-fledged investigation into the violence.
Opposition leaders have called for Mahinda Rajapaksa to be arrested for inciting his supporters to attack anti-government protesters.
Former President Maithripala Sirisena and Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the leader of the opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya have called for Mahinda Rajapaksa to be arrested.
"He must be arrested for encouraging violence. There was no reason to attack the peaceful protesters," Sirisena said.
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