‘Goons, thugs’: Ex-Sri Lanka cricketers slam Rajapaksas after Colombo clashes
Former top Sri Lankan cricketers, including Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakarra, lashed out at the government after supporters of the ruling party stormed a major protest site in Colombo on Monday, attacking anti-government demonstrators and clashing with police amid the country's worst economic crisis. At least 20 people have been injured in the clashes, the local media reported, forcing Sri Lankan authorities to impose a nationwide curfew and deployed the army.
Hundreds of ruling party supporters rallied outside the official residence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president's elder brother, before marching to an anti-government protest site outside the presidential office.
Hitting out at the Rajapaksa brothers, Jayasuriya tweeted, "I never thought that this type of thuggery will be unleashed on innocent protesters at galle face in broad day and outside temple trees. The police must remember they are here to protect the PUBLIC of this country not corrupt politicians. This is the end of the Rajapaksas."
His former teammates Jayawardena and Sangakarra also termed the attackers "thugs".
"These thugs was assembled at prime minister’s official residence this morning and walked in numbers to assault innocent peaceful anti government protesters.. how can this happen ? Police and others just watching this," Jayawardena tweeted.
Sangakarra said, "The only violence was perpetrated by your “supporters” - goons and thugs who came to your office first before going on to assault the peaceful protestors."
The former wicketkeeper and captain was responding to a tweet by Mahinda who urged the general public to exercise restraint.
Protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's government have raged for weeks amid the country's worst financial crisis since independence, with thousands demanding Rajapaksa and his influential family quit for mishandling the economy.
Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and a group of Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) MPs who arrived at Galle Face were reportedly attacked by a group of protesters. In view of the debilitating law and order situation, they were escorted out immediately.
(With inputs from agencies)
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