Sri Lanka police ordered to go on offensive, use live ammunition to stop rioting

May 11, 2022: According to a report by AFP, Sri Lanka police have been ordered to go on the offensive and use live ammunition to stop rioting after another night of sporadic arson attacks.

Police say eight people have died since Monday, when frustration at the island’s dire economic crisis erupted into violence between supporters and opponents of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Even with a curfew imposed and thousands of security forces told to “shoot on sight” to prevent further unrest, a luxury hotel said to belong to a Rajapaksa relative was set ablaze Tuesday evening.

A curfew imposed soon after violence broke out on Monday was due to be lifted on Wednesday morning, but it was extended by another 24 hours due to continuing violence.

Security was stepped up for several judges, saying they were targeted too.

The unrest in Sri Lanka has spiralled after Monday’s events, when government supporters with sticks and clubs attacked demonstrators in Colombo protesting peacefully for weeks over the economic crisis and demanding President Rajapaksa’s resignation.

Mobs then retaliated across the country late into the night, torching dozens of homes of ruling-party politicians and trying to storm the prime minister’s official residence in the capital.

Former Prime Minister and the President’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had to be rescued in a pre-dawn military operation on Tuesday after thousands of angry protesters stormed his residence following his resignation as premier.

Sri Lanka had just opened staff-level talks with the International Monetary Fund on a possible bail out after the country ran out of dollars to import even the most essential items.

Echoing calls from the UN rights chief and the European Union, the United States on Tuesday said it was both concerned with the escalating violence and the deployment of the military.

“We stress that peaceful protesters should never be subjected to violence or intimidation, whether that’s on the part of the military force or civilian units,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

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