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Sri Lanka crisis: Outgoing PM Mahinda Rajapaksa evacuated by troops

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Google Oneindia News

Colombo, May 10: Heavily armed troops evacuated outgoing Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa from his official residence in Colombo on Tuesday after thousands of protesters breached the main gate.

Protesters who forced their way into the capital's "Temple Trees" residence then attempted to storm the main two-storey building where Rajapaksa was holed up with his immediate family."

Sri Lanka crisis: Outgoing PM Mahinda Rajapaksa evacuated by troops

After a pre-dawn operation, the former PM and his family were evacuated to safety by the army," a top security official told AFP.

"At least 10 petrol bombs were thrown into the compound."Rajapaksa's evacuation to an undisclosed location followed a day of violent protests in which five people, including a lawmaker, were killed and nearly 200 wounded.

The violence occurred following reports that Mahinda Rajapaksa may offer to stand down as Prime Minister, as pressure mounted on the embattled government led by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to form an interim administration to overcome the worst economic crisis facing the country.

Curfew was imposed islandwide with immediate effect until further notice, a police spokesperson was quoted as saying by the local media.

A military contingent was deployed to the protest site to assist law enforcement.

The Rajapaksa brothers - President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa - have so far defied calls for their resignation.

In a special Cabinet meeting on Friday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency with effect from Friday midnight. This is the second time that an emergency was declared in Sri Lanka in just over a month as the island nation was in the grip of the worst economic crisis.

Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948.

The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.

Thousands of demonstrators have hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9, as the government ran out of money for vital imports; prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages in fuel, medicines and electricity supply.

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