Amid the escalating violence in Sri Lanka, the authorities in the country have issued shoot-on-sight orders on Tuesday to quell unrest that has seen buildings and vehicles set ablaze a day after the island was rocked by deadly violence and rioting.
With thousands of security forces enforcing a curfew, the country’s defence ministry said that troops “have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone looting public property or causing harm to life”, international news agency Reuters reported.
Mahinda Rajapaksa tendered his resignation as Prime Minister on Monday, amid the country facing its worst economic crisis and riots. The development came on the day; the Sri Lankan police imposed a country-wide curfew after clashes broke out between rival political camps in Colombo.
This comes days after President Gotbaya Rajapaksa in a special meeting on Friday requested the Prime Minister to step down as a solution to the ongoing political crisis in the country.
Mahinda Rajapaksa quit his post on Monday but violence erupted in the island nation soon after his resignation. Soon after his resignation, the ancestral home of the politically-influential Rajapaksa family in Hambantota was set on fire by protesters. The homes of several ministers and ex-ministers were also attacked and set on fire.
Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence on Tuesday ordered the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy personnel to open fire on anyone looting public property or causing harm to others. Nearly 250 people have been injured in the violence in Colombo and other parts of the country, India Today reported.
Outside Colombo, ruling-party lawmaker Amarakeerthi Athukorala shot two people – killing one of them- when surrounded by a crowd of protesters, AFP quoted police officials as saying.
The MP later took his own life, officers said, but the ruling party said he had been murdered. The lawmaker’s bodyguard was also killed.
Another ruling-party politician who was not named shot dead two protesters and wounded five others in the south, police added.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Tuesday she was “deeply troubled” by the violence committed both by supporters of the government and the subsequent “mob violence” against ruling party members, the report said.
Bachelet in a statement called for an investigation and urged the government to “engage in meaningful dialogue with all parts of society”.
The US State Department also reiterated a call for an investigation into the clashes, saying Washington 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,” spokesman Ned Price told reporters.