Sri Lanka: Capital Lifts Curfew After Violent Protests Over Economic Crisis

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Sri Lanka’s capital has been heavily guarded after hundreds of protesters attempted to attack the president’s house in a night of violence and anger about the country’s dismal economic situation. Officials also claim that Rajapaksa was not at home during the protest.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s office said on Friday that the protesters wanted to create an “Arab Spring” — a reference to anti-government protests in response to corruption and economic stagnation that gripped the Middle East over a decade ago.
“The Thursday night protest was led by extremist forces calling for an Arab Spring to create instability in our country,” the president’s office said in a brief statement.

Hundreds of people marched on Rajapaksa’s house on Thursday night, led by unnamed social media activists, demanding his resignation. They set fire to two military buses and a police jeep, attacked cops with bricks, and blocked the main road into Colombo with burning tires. To disperse the protests, tear gas and water cannon were used. In running battles, one individual was badly injured, and five officers were hurt, according to police. A total of 45 persons were also detained.

An overnight curfew was lifted early on Friday morning, but police and military presence was increased around the city, where the burnt-out wreckage of a bus was remained blocking the road leading to Rajapaksa’s home.
The 22-million-strong island nation is experiencing its worst economic crisis in years, with rolling blackouts lasting up to 13 hours a day because the government does not have enough foreign exchange to pay for fuel imports.

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