The Defense Ministry of Sri Lanka instructed security forces to kill demonstrators on sight on Tuesday, following the ouster of the country's prime minister amid a national revolt that has resulted in at least eight deaths and hundreds of injuries.
Mobs supporting the government began hitting nonviolent protestors who had camped out near the residence of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, demanding his removal under the most significant economic crisis in Sri Lanka's history on Monday.
Rajapaksa ultimately resigned on Monday as violence swept across the country, leaving at least eight dead — including a politician from the ruling party and two police officers — 219 injured, and more than 100 structures and 60 vehicles destroyed, according to the official account.
The Telegraph said that the violence against Rajapaksa's residence worsened after his resignation, with at least ten Molotov cocktails thrown at it and demonstrators smashing through a security barrier.
The UK newspaper reported that hundreds of military used tear gas, water cannons, and warning shots to ultimately bring the newly resigned political leader and his family to an unknown safe place.
Within hours, the remainder of his cabinet likewise resigned.
Despite stringent curfews, violence persisted Tuesday as anti-government rioters demanded the departure of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of the former prime minister.
On Tuesday, the military ministry announced that thousands of soldiers "have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone stealing public property or causing bodily harm."
Agence France-Presse said that Colombo's most senior police officer, Senior Deputy Inspector-General Deshabandu Tennakoon, was among those attacked after a throng encircled and set his car on fire.
According to the outlet, after Tennakoon's rescue by officers who fired into the air to disperse the mob, he was brought to the hospital and discharged shortly after receiving treatment.
The violence followed months of escalating fury over Sri Lanka's economic instability, which has caused severe food shortages and recurring power outages.
People have been forced to wait for hours to purchase necessities, while physicians have warned of severe hospital medicine shortages.
The removal of the prime minister and calls for the president's removal represent a significant decline in support for the Rajapaksas, Sri Lanka's most influential political dynasty for decades.
Initially, President Rajapaksa attributed Sri Lanka's economic troubles to global causes such as the pandemic's impact on the country's tourism business and the Russia-Ukraine conflict's impact on world oil prices.
However, both he and his brother have since admitted to errors that aggravated the crisis, including that they should have sought an IMF bailout sooner.