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Army takes resigning Sri Lankan prime minister to safety

The Sri Lankan army today evacuated outgoing Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa from the official residence, moving him to a safe place after thousands of protesters broke down one of the complex’s gates.

“After a pre-dawn operation, the former prime minister and his family were taken to a safe place by the army,” a senior security official told AFP.

After breaking through the main gate of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Colombo residence, protesters tried to break into the two-story main building, where President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the brother of the former prime minister, was hiding with his family.

“At least ten explosive devices were dropped into the complex,” the official pointed out.

The same source said police, equipped with tear gas, formed a barrier and fired warning shots into the air to prevent crowds from passing through the three entrances of the colonial-era building, a symbol of state power.

The former prime minister was eventually transferred to an undisclosed secure location.

Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday after several clashes between government supporters and protesters, which left five dead, including a member of parliament, and nearly 200 injured.

The protesters demanded, for several weeks, the departure of the prime minister due to the serious economic crisis that the country is going through.

On Friday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency for the second time in five weeks, granting security forces extensive powers, including the authorization to arrest suspects and detain them for long periods of time without judicial oversight.

The Indian Ocean island nation is on the brink of bankruptcy and has suspended payments on foreign loans. Economic problems provoked a political crisis, with the government facing widespread protests and a vote of no confidence in parliament.

Source: With Agencies

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