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Carnage in Colombo – Protestors raid President’s home and set Prime Minister’s residence ablaze

Protestors fend off tear gas in Colombo.

Sri Lanka's embattled president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has fled the capital, Colombo, as tens of thousands of protesters stormed his official residence this morning, as anti-government demonstrations amidst a crushing economic crisis coming to a head.

At the time of writing, protestors are currently still outside the private residence of Ranil Wickremesinghe, who just hours ago agreed to step down as the country’s prime minister. Demonstrators have set the residence alight.

Demonstrators chant as Wickremesinghe's residence burns.

The protest outside Wickremesinghe’s residence came as tens of thousands descended upon Rajapaksa’s official residence in Colombo this morning. The demonstrations had been planned for days, as part of a series of rallies calling on the Sri Lankan president to retire, with a heavy security presence across the capital.

As the scale of the protests became clear, however, Rajapaksa was nowhere to be seen as demonstrators scaled walls and gates into his residence. Some took a dip in his pool, whilst others rummaged through his personal belongings and even his underwear, as anti-government slogans were chanted.

Protestors inside the official residence of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The security forces attempted to quash the protests with brute force, using teargas, water cannons and even live ammunition with reports that at least two people were shot. Unconfirmed reports indicate that at least one protestor has been killed so far.

Elsewhere in the capital, footage emerged of journalists being attacked by the security forces.

An injured protestor is carried away.

Security forces line up in Colombo this morning.

As protests rocked Colombo, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s whereabouts remained unknown. According to The Guardian, two defence ministry sources said he has been removed from the official premises on Friday for his safety ahead of the demonstration. Footage from across the island increased speculation of where he may be sheltering, with video showing navy ships being loaded with luggage and a convoy of vehicles driving across Colombo’s main international airport.

With Rajapaksa seemingly missing, a meeting of the heads of Sri Lanka’s main political parties was called as demonstrations continued. Lawmaker Harsha de Silva tweeted that there had been an agreement calling on both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe “to resign immediately” with the Speaker to act as president for a maximum of 30 days, before the parliament elects a new head of state.

However, the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress tweeted that Wickremesinghe was holding out and had refused to resign.

As pressure mounted, just hours later Wickremesinghe said he would “accept the best recommendation of the Party Leaders today” and tweeted out his resignation.

It was too late to save his residence, where angry protestors continue to be gathered.

More to follow.



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