Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Shoot at sight orders in SL as protests intensify

With escalating violence in Sri Lanka, including torching of houses belonging to ruling party politicians and family members of President Gotabaya Rajapksa, armed forces have been given orders to open fire at anyone causing personal harm, or damaging/looting the properties of others.
Eight people, including a politician from the ruling party, a police officer and civilians, have been killed since violence broke out on Monday, while as many as 219 injured persons are undergoing treatments at government hospitals.
Secretary in the Defence Ministry, Kamal Gunaratne, said that 60 vehicles, including buses and jeeps, have been torched and over 40 vehicles have been damaged since Monday.
“While peaceful protest is being conducted, there are sections of the society who have resorted to violence and looting. We are going to strictly impose the law against anyone violating it,” the Defence Secretary said.
Amid the spread of violence, President Rajapaksa has extended the curfew from Wednesday to Thursday.
Gunaratne said that acts of violence are continuing throughout the country, ignoring the state of Emergency and curfew imposed by the President.
President appeals: Embattled Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Tuesday urged people to stop “violence and acts of revenge” against fellow citizens and vowed to address the political and economic crisis facing the nation, even as his elder brother and former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa was evacuated to a naval base after a series of attacks on his supporters left at least eight people dead.
A curfew is in force across the island nation after mobs burned down the ancestral home belonging to the ruling Rajapaksa family amid mounting anger for their mishandling of the economy, leading to the island nation’s worst economic crisis. Though Mahinda Rajapaksa quit as prime minister on Monday, this has failed to bring calm. The protesters are demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya as well.
“I appeal and urge people to remain calm & stop violence & acts of revenge against citizens, irrespective of political affiliations. All efforts will be made to restore political stability through consensus, within constitutional mandate & to resolve economic crisis,” President Gotabaya tweeted in his first comments since the outbreak of the violence that saw arson attacks on the homes of several former ministers and politicians.
Throughout the night on Monday, the police fired teargas shells to quell mobs trying to enter the Temple Trees residence. In the early hours of Tuesday, police fired tear gas and warning shots to hold back mobs as security forces moved Mahinda and his family out of his official residence.
As word spread about Mahinda’s reported presence at the Trincomalee Naval Base, people started a protest near the key military facility. On Tuesday, Sri Lankan media showed a video of a house of former finance minister Basil Rajapaksa’s house in Malwana that was vandalised. Basil, 71, is the younger brother of Mahinda and Gotabaya.
Anti-government protesters have set up a checkpoint on the road leading to the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo to prevent the Rajapaksa family loyalists from fleeing the country.


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