World Protesters storm Sri Lankan president's official residence

Protesters storm Sri Lankan president’s official residence

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Protesters inside the president’s official residence during the anti-government protest in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on Saturday. Thousands of protesters broke through police barricades and stormed the residence. Protests have been rocking the country for over three months, calling for the resignation of the president and prime minister over the current economic crisis. Photo by Chamila Karunarathne/EPA-EFE

July 9 (BP) — Protesters demanding the resignation of Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country’s economic crisis stormed the leader’s official residence Saturday.

Police in Colombo said more than 100,000 demonstrators gathered outside the capital’s President’s House, which serves as Rajapaksa’s office and official residence, on Saturday, and video captured at the scene shows the protesters entering the building.

The footage shows protesters hanging banners from the building’s balcony, swimming in the residence’s pool and cooking in the president’s kitchen.

A naval official said Rajapaksa was moved Friday to the SLNS Gajabahu, and intended to remain on the vessel until security officials determine it is safe for the leader to return to the mainland

Protesters also entered the home of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was earlier moved to a secure location.

Local lawmakers said on social media that majority party leaders are calling on Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe to resign amid the economic crisis, Wickremesinghe’s office released a statement Saturday saying he is willing to resign and hand over power to an all-party government.

Health officials in Colombo said at least 42 people have been injured in clashes with security forces amid Saturday’s protests, with at least two people reported to be in critical condition. Police were reported to have used tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse the crowds. Police were also said to have fired shots into the air.

A U.N. statement issued Friday called on “Sri Lankan authorities to show restraint in the policing of assemblies and ensure every necessary effort to prevent violence.”

Sri Lanka has been experiencing a worsening economic crisis, with millions of residents struggling to afford essentials including food, medicine and fuel. The country’s schools have been suspended and fuel has been limited to essential services.

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