Thousands of protesters in Sri Lanka storm president’s official residence

Thousands of protesters in Sri Lanka storm president’s official residence after breaking through police barricades during anti-government march as country battles economic crisis

  • Thousands of protestors in Sri Lanka storm the presidential palace 
  • There has been public anger directed at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa
  • The country is experiencing an acute shortage of fuel, food and medicine 

Sri Lanka is rocked by crisis as thousands of protestors storm the president’s house in the capital of Colombo over public anger at the government’s handling of an economic crisis. 

A planned rally, one of the largest anti-government marches in the crisis-hit country this year, turned violent as thousands of demonstrators surged into the presidential compound of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Some protesters, holding Sri Lankan flags and helmets, broke into the president’s residence, video footage from local TV news NewsFirst channel showed.  

Two defence ministry sources said President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was removed from the official premises on Friday for his safety ahead of the planned rally over the weekend.

The island of 22 million people is struggling under a severe foreign exchange shortage that has limited essential imports of fuel, food and medicine, plunging it into the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

Many blame the country’s decline on President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Largely peaceful protests since March have demanded his resignation.

Thousands of people swarmed into Colombo’s government district, shouting slogans against the president and dismantling several police barricades to reach Rajapaksa’s house, a Reuters witness said.

Police fired shots in the air but were unable to stop the angry crowd from surrounding the presidential residence, the witness said. 

Angry protestors gather inside the compound of Sri Lanka's Presidential Palace in Colombo

Angry protestors gather inside the compound of Sri Lanka’s Presidential Palace in Colombo

Protestors stormed the palace and paraded through the corridors chanting against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and even took a dip in his pool

Protestors stormed the palace and paraded through the corridors chanting against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and even took a dip in his pool 

Police use water canon and tear gas to disperse the protesters in Colombo, Sri Lanka today

Police use water canon and tear gas to disperse the protesters in Colombo, Sri Lanka today

Protesters try to disperse and flee as a tear gas shell fired by police lands next to them

Protesters try to disperse and flee as a tear gas shell fired by police lands next to them

Protestors react to a tear gas cannister, with one donning a gas mask and another readying a blanket to smother it with

Protestors react to a tear gas cannister, with one donning a gas mask and another readying a blanket to smother it with

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas grenade towards police members as police use tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators

A demonstrator throws back a tear gas grenade towards police members as police use tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators

Police and security troops react to a tear gas cannister that has landed near them

Police and security troops react to a tear gas cannister that has landed near them

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has summoned an emergency meeting of political party leaders today in response.

The island country has been crippled by a shortage of foreign exchange that has left the country struggling to pay for essential imports of food, fuel and medicine. 

More to follow … 

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