Security forces have been deployed across Colombo after protesters tried to storm President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's home in anger at the nation's worst economic crisis since independence.
Sri Lanka's capital has been under heavy security after hundreds of protesters tried to storm the president's home in a night of violence and anger at a dire economic crisis.
Security forces were deployed across Colombo on Friday after protesters tried to storm President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's home in anger at the nation's worst economic crisis since independence.
Rajapaksa's office said on Friday that the protesters wanted to create an "Arab Spring" — a reference to anti-government protests in response to corruption and economic stagnation that gripped the Middle East over a decade ago.
"The Thursday night protest was led by extremist forces calling for an Arab Spring to create instability in our country," the president's office said in a brief statement.
Rajapaksa was not at home during the protest, according to official sources.
An overnight curfew was lifted early on Friday morning, but police and military presence was beefed up around the city, where a burnt-out wreckage of a bus was still blocking the road to Rajapaksa's house.
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Thursday night's unrest saw hundreds of people, rallied by unidentified social media activists, march on Rajapaksa's home demanding his resignation.
They set two military buses and a police jeep ablaze, threw bricks to attack officers and barricaded a main road into Colombo with burning tyres.
One person was critically injured and police said five officers were hurt in running battles. Forty-five people were arrested.
Security forces fired into the crowd and used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators. It was not immediately clear if they used live rounds or rubber bullets.
A live broadcast by a private television network abruptly stopped after what journalists said was pressure from the government.
But videos shared on social media verified as genuine by AFP news agency showed men and women shouting "lunatic, lunatic go home" and demanding that all members of the powerful Rajapaksa family step down.
The South Asian nation is seeing severe shortages of essentials, sharp price rises and crippling power cuts in its most painful downturn since independence in 1948. Many fear it will default on its debts.
Latest official data released Friday showed that inflation in Colombo hit 18.7 percent in March, the sixth consecutive monthly record. Food prices also soared a record 30.1 percent.
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