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Sri Lankan troops can now shoot at will in the wake of deadly riots

Sri Lankan troops can now shoot at will in the wake of deadly riots
Sri Lankan troops can now shoot at will in the wake of deadly riots
Written by Harry Johnson

As Sri Lanka battles its worst economic crisis in history, thousands of protesters defied an island-wide curfew until 7am on Tuesday to continue protesting.

Yesterday’s violent riots left seven people dead and resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The violence on Monday that led to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s resignation had happened in spite of the state of emergency.

Mahinda Rajapaksa spoke to hundreds of gathered supporters on Monday after initial, unconfirmed reports that he was considering stepping down.

After his remarks, many of them, armed with iron bars, stormed a camp of anti-government protesters, beating them and setting fire to their tents.

Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse the skirmishes, after having initially done little to hold back the government supporters.

The Indian Ocean nation’s defense ministry announced today that it has ordered troops to shoot on sight after it granted its military and police emergency powers to arrest people without warrants.

“Security forces have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone looting public property or causing harm to life,” Sri Lanka‘s defense ministry said today.

According to the latest decision, the military can detain people for up to 24 hours before handing them to the police, while any private property can be searched by forces, the government said in a newspaper notification on Tuesday.

“Any person arrested by a police officer shall be taken to the nearest police station,” it said, fixing a 24-hour deadline for the armed forces to do the same.

Severe fuel, food and medicine shortages brought thousands of Sri Lankans onto the streets in over a month of protests that had been mostly peaceful until this week.

According to local media reports, some protesters were attacking politicians associated with the government late on Monday, setting fire to homes, shops and businesses they own.

Demonstrators are also demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Mahinda Rajapksa, amid a devastating economic crisis.

Some 200 people had been injured in yesterday’s protests, according to Sri Lankan police spokesperson.

Local law enforcement said that the situation had largely calmed by Tuesday, with just occasional reports of some sporadic unrest.

Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic crisis follows the global COVID-19 pandemic, which hit key tourism earnings and left the government grappling with rising oil prices and the effects of populist tax cuts.

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About the author

Harry Johnson

Harry Johnson has been the assignment editor for eTurboNews for mroe than 20 years. He lives in Honolulu, Hawaii, and is originally from Europe. He enjoys writing and covering the news.

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