COLOMBO: Sri Lankan authorities issued shoot-on-sight orders on Tuesday to quell further unrest a day after the island was rocked by deadly violence and rioting.
With thousands of security forces enforcing a curfew, the defence ministry said troops “have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone looting public property or causing harm to life”.
On Monday, government supporters attacked with sticks and clubs demonstrators in Colombo protesting peacefully for weeks over a dire economic crisis and demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Mobs then retaliated across the country late into the night, torching dozens of homes of ruling-party politicians and trying to storm the prime minister’s official residence in the capital.
Police said Tuesday that in total eight people died.
Protests continued on Tuesday despite the curfew.
A crowd attacked and set fire to a vehicle carrying Colombo’s most senior policeman.
Officers fired warning shots and sent in reinforcements to rescue Senior Deputy Inspector-General Deshabandu Tennakoon, who was rushed to hospital but later released after treatment.
In another sign of rapidly deteriorating security, vigilante groups blocked the main road to Colombo airport to check for any Rajapaksa loyalists trying to leave the island, witnesses said.
As well as those killed, more than 225 people were injured on Monday, which also saw the resignation of prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
His departure however failed to quell public anger, with his brother still president and wielding widespread powers and command over the security forces.
Mahinda had to be rescued in a pre-dawn military operation after thousands of angry protesters stormed his official residence overnight and lobbed petrol bombs.
Protester Chamal Polwattage said he expected demonstrations to swell again and vowed they would not leave “until the president goes”.
“People are angry about the attacks launched against us yesterday… We have a lot of volunteers bringing food and water for us,” the 25-year-old told AFP.
‘Deeply troubled’ –