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Thousands Protest At Lanka Presidential Home, Special Task Force Called

Local television channels have reported protests in various parts of Sri Lanka.

Colombo:

Residents in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, suffering for weeks under a devastating economic crisis, erupted in protest late this afternoon. More than 2000 people staged protests in the Lankan capital and clashed with police. A paramilitary police unit, the Special Task Force, was called in to quell the protests.

There has been a critical shortage of food and essential goods, fuel and gas for weeks as the country struggles with its worst economic recession since its independence.

This afternoon, diesel was no longer available, leaving the country’s 22 million people without electricity for 13 hours and blocking transportation from the roads. The blackout had a spin-off effect on government hospitals that had stopped surgery due to lack of medication.

Electricity rations hit mobile phone base stations and affected call quality. The Colombo Stock Exchange had to limit trading for half to two hours, and the office asked non -essential staff to stay home.

Street lights were turned off to save electricity, Reuters news agency reported, citing a minister.

By this afternoon, people began gathering on the street near the house of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, demanding he intervene in the situation.

The trouble started when police tried to disperse protesters, who waved posters and shouted slogans. The crowd threw bottles and stones at the police and the crowd could only be controlled with tear gas and water cannons.

Visuals from the scene showed a mob surrounding two policemen on bicycles. The shouts of the slogan were interspersed with the sound of broken glass and crashing rocks.

Since yesterday, local television channels and NDTV have reported protests erupting in various places in the country. In some cities, motorists block major roads.

The current crisis is rooted in the Lankan government’s move to ban imports in March 2020. The move aims to save foreign currency for government debt totaling $ 51 billion. But this led to a widespread shortage of essential goods and soaring prices.

The government has said it is seeking a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. It has also secured loans from India and China.

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