November 25, 2022
Ahenfo Radio Denmark

Sri Lanka issues ‘shoot-on-sight’ order to quell unrest

The government authorises military and police to arrest people without warrants a day after the deadly violence and the PM’s resignation.

Sri Lanka has ordered troops to shoot on sight after it granted its military and police emergency powers to arrest people without warrants in the wake of Monday’s violence that left seven people dead and resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

“Security forces have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone looting public property or causing harm to life,” the defence ministry said on Tuesday.

As the Indian Ocean nation battles its worst economic crisis in history, thousands of protesters defied an islandwide curfew until 7am on Tuesday to continue protesting.

Shortages of fuel, food and medicine brought thousands onto the streets in more than a month of protests that had been mostly peaceful until this week. Protesters are also demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Mahinda Rajapksa, amid a devastating economic crisis.

Some reports surfaced of angry protesters attacking politicians associated with the government late on Monday, setting fire to homes, shops and businesses they own.

The situation had largely calmed by Tuesday, barring reports of sporadic unrest, said police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa, adding that some 200 people had been injured on Monday.

Reporting from Colombo on Tuesday, Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez said: “There is a heavy military presence. On our way, we were stopped at multiple checkpoints manned by the air force, some by the army and the navy.”

According to the latest decision, the military can detain people for up to 24 hours before handing them to the police, while any private property can be searched by forces, the government said in a gazette notification on Tuesday.

“Any person arrested by a police officer shall be taken to the nearest police station,” it said, fixing a 24-hour deadline for the armed forces to do the same.

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