Sri Lanka crisis: Ex-PM flees to naval base as arson attacks spread

May 12, 2022 6:00 am

Mobs have attacked buses as well as property belonging to the Rajapaksas and other politicians. [Photo Credit: BBC]

Security forces are deployed across Sri Lanka with orders to shoot looters on sight amid continuing protests at the government’s handling of a devastating economic crisis.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has vowed to restore order, in his first national speech since protests began last month.

Ignoring calls to resign, he offered to cede some powers to the parliament and name a prime minister, but set no timetable.

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His brother quit as PM on Monday amid fury over soaring prices and shortages.

Sri Lankans are desperate as basic items like food and fuel run out or become unaffordable.

Despite a nationwide curfew, there have been two consecutive nights of arson attacks by mobs – many have targeted property belonging to the Rajapaksas and other politicians who are blamed for the mess the country is in.

Shops near Colombo were torched, as well as a resort owned by the son of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Mr Rajapaksa, the president’s elder brother and a two-time former president, is holed up in a naval base in the north-east for his own safety, the military has confirmed.