Sri Lanka gives emergency powers to military, police after clashes kill seven

Sri Lanka gave emergency powers on Tuesday to its military and police to detain people without warrants, after a day of clashes that killed seven people and injured more than 200, in violence that prompted Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to resign.

As the Indian Ocean nation battles its worst economic crisis in history, thousands of protesters had defied curfew to attack government figures, setting ablaze homes, shops and businesses belonging to ruling party lawmakers and provincial politicians.

Despite sporadic reports of unrest, the situation calmed by Tuesday, said police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa, adding that about 200 people had also been injured in violence that led to an islandwide curfew until 7:00 a.m. (0130 GMT) the following day.

Weeks of overwhelmingly peaceful protests against the government’s mismanagement of the crisis turned violent on Monday when supporters of Mahinda were bussed into the capital from the countryside and attacked demonstrators.
Anti-government crowds defied a nationwide curfew to retaliate against government supporters for the attacks late into the night. They set alight the homes of dozens of pro-Rajapaksa politicians, while a controversial museum dedicated to the family was razed to the ground in the country’s south.

Namal said his family believed that Sri Lankans had a right to protest. “We will always stand by our people,” he added.