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Rajapaksa flees as protesters storm Palace

The President had to be evacuated as the protesters demanding his resignation over food and fuel shortages surged into the high security palace compound. Security forces opened fire in the air and burst tear gas to drive them away. Several people were injured.

COLOMBO, July 9: Lanka's President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was evacuated from his residence on Saturday as protesters stormed the President's Palace. The troops opened fire in the air and teargassed to prevent the crowds from rampaging the palace. The President was escorted to safety, it was officially stated. Several people were injured.

The protesting crowds, blaming him for the current economic crisis raging in the country, demanded his resignation as they surged into the high security palace compound, breaking barricades.

Several people were injured in clashes between anti-Government protesters and the police at several place as the countrywide agitation became violent.

Lanka has been facing acute food, fuel and medicines shortage for several months as imports have stopped for want of foreign exchange. The country depends on imports for essential items. The Government owes huge amounts to international agencies and other countries like China as it borrowed beyond its repayment capacity. Tourism, the only mainstay, dried up during the long spell of covid pandemic.

The anti-Government protesters had announced earlier that they would hold countrywide agitations on Saturday. The island is facing the worst financial turmoil in seven decades of its independence.

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