How Sri Lanka PM Rajapaksa was evacuated as protesters stormed his home

Sri Lanka economic crisis: Situation is made worse by rapidly depleting foreign exchange reserves, which means the Lankan govt cannot buy food, fuel, medicines and other essential goods.
Government supporters and police clash outside the President's office in Colombo in Sri Lanka on May 9, 2022. Photo by Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP)(AFP)
Government supporters and police clash outside the President's office in Colombo in Sri Lanka on May 9, 2022. Photo by Ishara S. KODIKARA / AFP)(AFP)
Updated on May 10, 2022 03:58 PM IST
Copy Link
By | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

Sri Lanka prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had to be rescued by heavily armed troops from his official residence in Colombo this morning after thousands of protesters stormed the main gates. Protesters then tried to force their way into 'Temple Trees' - the two-storey colonial-era building that serves as the Lankan PM's home and where his family and he were sheltering.

How did Sri Lankan forces evacuate ex PM Rajapaksa?

Police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air to hold back mobs as security forces moved Rajapaksa and his family out of 'Temple Trees'.

Protesters had set fire to a truck used by the military to try and block the main gate and security forces' access to the compound.

"After a pre-dawn operation, the former PM and his family were evacuated to safety by the army," a security official told news agency AFP. "At least 10 petrol bombs were thrown into the compound."

Some of the tear gas canisters fired by Lankan forces also hit the US embassy compound across the road, but there were no reports of casualties.

Where is Mahinda Rajapaksa now?

He has been moved to an undisclosed location, officials told AFP.

Bloomberg later said protesters had gathered outside a naval base in the southern town of Trincomalee after local reports said Rajapaksa and his family had relocated there.

Sri Lanka sees most violent day in weeks; PM quits, MP dies: 10 points

What happened?

Sri Lanka this week saw its most violent protests yet as the island nation battles its worst economic crisis in living memory. At least eight have died so far, news agency PTI reported, and over 200 have been injured in clashes with forces.

One of the dead is a MP from the ruling party - Amarakeerthi Athukorala - who reportedly shot himself after killing two people, including a 27-year-old man.

The ancestral home of the Rajapaksas, in the southern Hambantota district, was set on fire, as were dozens of buildings belonging to his loyalists and others.

Mahinda quits as Lanka PM; MP dead in clash, leaders’ houses on fire

"This is something we should have done earlier," a man in front of a minister's burning home told local media. "We are sorry we couldn't burn it sooner."

Faced with increasingly violent demonstrations, Rajapaksa on Monday quit his post after clashes between those loyal to him and the protestors.

Content warning: This video contains visuals that may upset some viewers

On Friday embattled president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the former PM's younger brother, imposed another 'state of emergency' and gave sweeping powers to the military as protests demanding the brothers' resignations escalated sharply.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains in power at this time.

Why are there protests in Sri Lanka?

Sri Lanka is fighting a massive economic crisis made worse by rapidly depleting foreign exchange reserves, which means it cannot even afford to buy food, fuel, medicines and other essential goods.

It has been bailed out so far by India, which has offered over $2.5 billion in basic goods, and another $1 billion in fuel aid, including petrol and diesel. The Lankan government has also secured $600 million in aid from the World Bank.

However, with forex reserves below $50 million, the situation is dire; finance minister Ali Sabry said Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Sri Lanka to default on external debt of $51 billion pending IMF bailout

The crisis has triggered a shortage of essential goods - food, fuel, and medicines - and skyrocketing prices for what little remains on shelves.

It has also triggered violent clashes between police and furious citizens demanding Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government be held responsible.

With input from AFP, PTI

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Follow the latest breaking news and developments from India and around the world with Hindustan Times' newsdesk. From politics and policies to the economy and the environment, from local issues to national events and global affairs, we've got you covered.

Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • An abortion-rights protester looks on during rally, on June 24, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa.

    US abortion ruling sparks global debate, polarises activists

    The end of constitutional protections for abortions in the United States on Friday emboldened abortion opponents around the world, while advocates for abortion rights worried it could threaten recent moves toward legalization in their countries. “I trust that with this ruling it will be possible to abolish abortion in the United States and throughout the world,” said anti-abortion president of Fundacion Vida SV, campaigner Sara Larin.

  • Abortion rights demonstrators protest outside the US Supreme Court as the court rules in the Dobbs v Women's Health Organization abortion case, overturning the landmark Roe v Wade abortion decision in Washington, on June 24, 2022. 

    Democrats vow to help women who must travel for abortions

    Democratic leaders across the nation vowed Friday to help women who travel to seek abortions and to shield patients and medical professionals from being pursued by authorities in states where the procedure becomes outlawed after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. On the West Coast, the Democratic governors of California, Washington and Oregon issued a joint “multi-state commitment,” saying they will work together to defend patients and care providers.

  • An abortion rights protester holds a sign to keep abortion safe in Ohio at a rally in Columbus, on June 24, 2022. 

    US: Abortion groups turn to state legal fights after Roe ruling

    The US Supreme Court decision to end the constitutional right to abortion is setting up a legal fight in some key states where lawmakers plan to enact bans before gubernatorial and congressional elections later this year. The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, leaving it up to the states to make their own rules.

  • Two people have been shot dead in a shooting at a nightclub in Oslo.

    Norway: Two dead, several wounded in shooting at nightclub in Oslo

    Two people were killed and several severely wounded in a shooting at a nightclub in Norway's capital Oslo, Norwegian police said early on Saturday. A suspect was apprehended nearby, police added. "Two people are confirmed dead," the Oslo police department said in a tweet.

  • File photo of UK PM Boris Johnson.

    Boris Johnson in crisis after Tories lose in UK polls

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson denied he was worried that some of his ministers might seek to move against him while he was out of the country at summits in Rwanda and Germany, following election losses overnight. Asked if he was concerned about Conservative lawmakers who were not ministers seeking to oust him, Johnson said no. “Clearly we've got to listen to these results,” he said from Rwanda, where he is attending a Commonwealth summit.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Saturday, June 25, 2022