|Heavily armed forces evacuate Sri Lankan Prime Minister|
Thousands of protesters reportedly broke through the main gate, amid the worst of the violence. Demonstrations have been going on for several weeks as the economic crisis bites Colombo. According to Al Jazeera, protesters who forced their way into Mahinda's official residence, Temple Trees in Colombo, then stormed the two-story main building, where Rajapaksa was hiding with his relatives, Tuesday (10/5/2022). "After the operation before dawn, the former PM and his family were evacuated to a safe place by the army," the top security official told AFP news agency, quoted by The Guardian.
"At least 10 petrol bombs were thrown into the compound," he added. Mahinda was forced to resign on Monday (9/5/2022) when protesters urged her. Mahinda's resignation is seen as the downfall of the patriarchal Rajapaksa clan, which has been in power for nearly 20 years.
During Mahinda's evacuation to an undisclosed location, violent protests left five people dead, including a member of parliament, nearly 200 injured. The security official said police continued to fire tear gas and fired warning shots into the air to detain protesters at all three entrances to the colonial-era building, a key symbol of state power. Elsewhere, dozens of properties linked to Rajapaksa loyalists were burned and mobs attacked the controversial Rajapaksa museum in the family's ancestral village in the island's south, razing it to the ground, police said. Two wax figures of Rajapaksa's parents were flattened.
The Rajapaksa clan in power has been shaken by months of blackouts and power shortages in Sri Lanka. The sudden spike in violence came despite a curfew and a state of emergency imposed on Friday. An emergency order from President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the outgoing prime minister's younger brother, gives the military immense power amid vocal demands for him to step down due to the country's deepening economic crisis.
Sri Lankan protesters and religious leaders blamed the former prime minister for inciting family supporters to attack unarmed protesters on Monday and stoke violence. "People are still not happy," said Al Jazeera's Minelle Fernandez from Colombo, referring to the prime minister's resignation.
He said protesters were saying "enough is enough" and wanted Rajapaksa to "go home". "Obviously, the president is trying to find alternatives: an interim government, a national coalition, a unity government, because obviously there's still time left in his term. But people seem to be trying hard and saying enough is enough," he said.