COLOMBO: Shots were fired from inside the Sri Lankan prime minister’s official residence Monday, as thousands of protesters breached the main gate and torched a truck at the entrance, an AFP reporter said.
Police also fired tear gas to push back protesters retaliating against an attack on them earlier in the day by those loyal to the outgoing premier Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Police sources confirmed that shots were fired in the air to prevent the crowd breaching the inner security ring of the residence where Rajapaksa, who resigned as premier earlier in the day, was holed up.
Witnesses saw several tear gas cannisters hit the US embassy compound located across from the residence, which is known as Temple Trees and is a key symbol of state power in the South Asian island.
Officials said the military deployed hundreds of troops to guard the outgoing premier and his aides at the residence after protesters pulled down a rear gate.
The thousands of protesters had defied an indefinite curfew declared earlier in the day to maintain their seige on the residence.
Elsewhere, police reported dozens of homes of ruling party politicians had been attacked by angry mobs across the island.
Protestors and Sri Lanka’s religious leaders blame Rajapaksa for instigating supporters to attack unarmed protestors who had been demonstrating peacefully since April 9.
They have been demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the outgoing premier’s younger brother, over the country’s worst economic crisis since independence.