Police in Sri Lanka today fired on protesters for the first time since anti-government protests over an economic crisis, killing one person and injuring several. A police spokesman confirmed that they had to shoot at the protesters after the crowd turned violent, throwing rocks at them.
People had blocked a highway in Rambukkana, in central Sri Lanka, 95 km from the capital Colombo, to protest acute oil shortages and high prices.
A severe fuel shortage sparked spontaneous protests across Sri Lanka earlier in the day, with tens of thousands of angry motorists burning tires and blocking the main road to the capital.
Sri Lanka has run out of dollars to finance essential imports, including food, medicine and fuel, sparking weeks of protests calling for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
The highway where the protest took place connects the central city of Kandy with the capital, Colombo. It was closed on several stretches as gas stations across Sri Lanka ran out of petrol and diesel.
Major oil retailer Ceylon Petroleum Corporation raised prices to 64.2 percent today and lifted a rationing system, which last week limited the amount of fuel individuals could buy.
Lanka IOC, a petrol retailer that accounts for a third of the local market, had already raised its prices by 35 percent yesterday.
Motorists have joined crowds of protesters in Colombo who have called on Mr Rajapaksa to resign for 11 days in a row. Doctors at the country’s main children’s hospital also started protesting a severe shortage of medicines and equipment today.
Sri Lanka is asking up to $4 billion from the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, to overcome its balance of payments crisis and boost depleted reserves.