The Pentagon said Tuesday it had been ordered to shoot someone who damaged state property or assaulted a public official after attacking a police chief.
The order follows violent protests in the capital city of Colombo, where at least eight people have been killed, but it’s unclear whether all the deaths were directly related to the protests. More than 200 people have been injured in the violence since Monday.
An island nation of 22 million people is grappling with the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Household prices are skyrocketing and widespread electricity shortages persist for several weeks. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the government’s handling of the economy.
His resignation came after live TV footage on Monday showed government supporters armed with sticks beating, tearing down and burning protesters in various places across the capital. Witnesses told CNN that dozens of homes were set on fire across the country in the violence.
An armed army was deployed to disperse protesters, according to CNN’s ground team, and video footage showed police firing tear gas and water cannons.
A nationwide curfew was in place until Thursday.
However, it is unclear whether the curfew and the prime minister’s resignation will be sufficient to prevent the increasingly unstable domestic situation.
Many protesters say their ultimate goal is to force the resignation of the prime minister’s younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
The European Union and 27 member states condemned “recent malicious attacks on peaceful protesters” in a statement on Tuesday and called on authorities to investigate.
“The EU mourns the loss of life, including one member of parliament and many wounded,” the statement said. “The EU reminds us of the importance of protecting the democratic rights of all citizens and focusing on solutions that will solve the critical problems facing Sri Lanka today.”
Sri Lanka’s neighbor, India, also joined in.
“India, as a close neighbor of Sri Lanka with historical ties, fully supports democracy, stability and economic recovery,” a foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.
“In accordance with our Neighbor First policy, India has extended more than $3.5 billion in aid this year to the people of Sri Lanka to help them overcome current difficulties. India will always be guided by the best interests of the people of Sri Lanka.” through a democratic process.”