Lanka ex-PM moves out of official home day after 8 die in violent protests

Colombo, May 10 (EFE).- Security forces Tuesday escorted Sri Lanka’s ex-prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family out of his official residence amid ongoing anti-government protests that turned violent with eight deaths and more than 200 injuries a day ago.

Rajapaksa stepped down as protests over the worst economic crisis in decades rocked the island nation and clamor grew louder for the government to resign.

However, the situation was relatively calmer than Monday when Rajapaksa, who, as the president between 2005 and 2015, oversaw the bloodied end to the Sri Lankan civil, was forced to quit.

On Tuesday morning, Rajapaksa, the most powerful politician, and his family quietly left the Temple Trees, the abode of his power and the official residence of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in Colombo.

However, it was not enough for the protesters to calm down and return home.

In Sri Lanka, the president is the head of government, and the prime minister’s position is more ceremonial.

The protesters are demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa go even as he announced to form a unity government with all parties.

The situation worsened Monday when police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters attempting to enter the prime minister’s official residence after violent clashes left at least eight people dead.

The protests turned violent after hundreds of Rajapaksa supporters attacked unarmed protesters who had been demanding his resignation and that of his brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, for nearly two months.

Rajapaksa supporters, led by some local government officials belonging to the ruling party, attacked the protesters with poles and iron rods near his official residence as the police watched.

They then marched towards the presidential secretariat and attacked hundreds of anti-government protesters before police intervened and stopped them.

In retaliation, thousands joined the anti-government protesters, breached the main gates of the prime minister’s official residence, and torched two police vehicles blocking the entrance.

The media division of the police said at least eight people, including a ruling party lawmaker, were killed in the clashes.

Angry mobs torched at least 25 houses owned by ruling party legislators, including Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ancestral house.

People in Rajapaksa’s constituency of Hambantota demolished a monument built for his parents with public funds.

Protesters and mobs have largely defied the curfew imposed amid a state of emergency declared by President Rajapaksa, eyewitnesses told EFE.

Some protesters have gathered near Sri Lanka’s main airports amid rumors that the Rajapaksa family members are going to leave the country without facing corruption allegations.

The government has extended the nationwide curfew until 7 am on Wednesday to de-escalate the situation.

However, anti-government protesters have been checking all vehicles and buses for the Rajapaksa supporters who attacked demonstrators on Monday, according to eyewitnesses.

Rajapaksa resigned late Monday after the violence instigated by his supporters.

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