5 dead, 200 injured in SL violence, houses of politicians torched

Colombo, May 10 (IANS) At least five people, including an MP, were killed in Sri Lanka, with over 200 others injured in the wake of the violence in the island nation, which also led to a number of houses belonging to resigned Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and other politicians, being torched.
 
5 dead, 200 injured in SL violence, houses of politicians torched

<br>On Monday night, anti-government protesters surrounded the Prime Minister's official residence in Colombo, Temple Trees, and tried to enter it. Later, they burnt vehicles parked outside the house.

Additional military personnel were called in to protect Mahinda Rajapaksa and police fired tear gas and water cannons on the agitating protesters. At midnight, the military had to fire shots in the air to disperse the violent mob.

An island-wide curfew has been extended to Wednesday morning as authorities seek to quell the violence.

Earlier on Monday, the months-long peaceful protest against the rising cost of living, shortages of essentials including food, fuel, medicine, cooking gas, turned violent when Mahinda Rajapaksa called his supporters from outstations to Colombo, who attacked two peaceful demostration sites near his house, as well as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's residence in Galle Face Green.

The pro-government protesters attacked the anti-government demonstrators with sticks and stones, which led to the injuries of the over 200 people. They also burnt the tents that were occupied by the anti-government protesters.

Police hardly took any actions to prevent the violence.

Angered by the attacks on peaceful protest sites, violence quickly spread across the crisis-hit island nation.

Ruling party MP Amarakeerthi Athukorala's bodyguard shot at the protesters in Nittambuwa city, located in the outskirts of Colombo, injuring three people. But the protesters attacked the MP and bodyguard.

Later, the bodies of Athukorala and his bodyguard were found in a building.

The US and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Sri Lanka to end the political crisis soon and find a solution through dialogue.

Even after the resignation of the Prime Minister and several other Cabinet Ministers, the island nation is facing a political deadlock in the wake of its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948,

The President has urged the opposition to form an all-party government, but the latter has refused to do so until Gotabaya Rajapaksa steps down.

On Monday, trade unions launched an indefinite nationwide strike demanding the President to resign.

--IANS<br>sfl/ksk/