Security Forces ordered to open fire on rioters

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As SLPP-sponsored thuggery spiralled out of control, with people retaliating violently even amid islandwide curfew, the Defence Ministry yesterday ordered the Security Forces to open fire on any person involved in looting public property or causing physical harm to others.

Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne, in a video message, urged the public to refrain from engaging in such conduct.

Urging the country’s youth to continue their struggle in a peaceful manner without causing any harm to any individuals and without damaging or setting fire to any properties, be it public or private,Gunaratne said it is the duty of the Police and the Tri-Forces to maintain law and order in the country.

He said a large number of incidents involving violent behaviour, causing disturbance, taking the law into one’s own hands, assaulting Police Officers and destroying public and private property have been reported in the country.

According to the Police, eight men including a Parliamentarian, a Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, a Sub Inspector and a Sergeant of Police had died during riots and violence islandwide on Monday and 230 persons were injured.

Police also said 47 vehicles and 38 houses came under arson attack, while 41 vehicles and 65 houses had been severely damaged.Most of the vehicles and houses destroyed, belonged to former ministers or MPs of the SLPP.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa meanwhile, took to his official Twitter handle, to urge people to remain calm and stop violence and acts of revenge against citizens, irrespective of political affiliations.

He said all efforts will be made to restore political stability through consensus, within a constitutional mandate and to resolve the economic crisis.

Meanwhile, people gathered outside the Trincomalee Naval Base yesterday and held a protest demanding the release of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family members from their protection, claiming the former Prime Minister and his family should be held accountable for the crisis and arrested.

Rajapaksa left Temple Trees before dawn yesterday, after Security Forces cleared people who had been protesting for hours against him and the Government. It was reported that he, along with family members, took refuge at the Trincomalee Naval Base, leaving Colombo in two Bell 412 helicopters of the Sri Lanka Air Force.

Last evening, Police arrested four individuals who attacked Western Province Senior DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon at Perahera Mawatha, near Temple Trees.

Five persons sustained injuries following a shooting that took place near the Rathgama Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman’s residence last evening.

Three among the injured were admitted to the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, while the other two were taken to the Poonangoda Hospital in Rathgama.

By Gagani Weerakoon and Methmalie Dissanayake