The island nation’s ruling party supporters stormed a main demonstration site in Colombo, hitting anti-government activists and clashing with police who used tear gas and water cannon to force them back.
In the island’s worst economic crisis since independence, Sri Lankans have endured months of blackouts and severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines, provoking weeks of overwhelmingly nonviolent anti-government rallies.
However, skirmishes erupted in Colombo on Monday between opponents and supporters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Police used tear gas and water cannon and proclaimed an instant curfew in Colombo, which was eventually extended to the entire 22-million-strong South Asian island nation.
At least 36 persons were injured, according to Pushpa Soysa, a spokeswoman for the Colombo National Hospital.
The army riot squad was brought in to help police, according to officials. Throughout the crisis, soldiers have been sent to protect fuel and other crucial deliveries, but not to prevent conflicts.
Since April 9, armed Rajapaksa supporters have attacked unarmed protestors camped outside the president’s office on the seafront Galle Face promenade in central Colombo, according to reports.