One Killed, Several Others Injured After Police Open Fire at Protesters in Sri Lanka

Police opened fire at a crowd protesting fuel shortages amid an economic crisis in a Sri Lankan town, killing one person and injuring several others on April 19.

Thirteen people had been admitted to a government hospital, one of whom had died and two others were undergoing surgery, Dr. Mihiri Priyangani confirmed.

Police confirmed that they fired on a group of people who were blocking a railway in the central town of Rambukkana for over eight hours.

Video footage from the scene showed police officers in full riot gear and one senior officer reportedly said, “Fire, fire, and chase them out.”

“Police had to fire to control the protesters. They set fire to some tires too, so police had to fire to disperse them,” police spokesperson Nihal Talduwa told BBC.

According to authorities, the crowd injured a number of police officers by throwing rocks and other objects at them.

The incident marked the first time police used live ammunition and the first fatality caused by police since protests began last month.

The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission said they had formed a three-person panel to investigate the incident.

Curfew has been imposed on Rambukkana on the night of April 19.

Thousands have gathered in Colombo daily, calling for the government to step down as the country is in its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from Britain in 1948.

Clashes have occurred in recent weeks, but they have largely remained peaceful.

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy as its foreign reserves have hit record lows and the government is unable to afford fuel and oil imports, triggering mass shortages of essentials, such as food, cooking gas, and medicine.

Sri Lankans have also faced power blackouts lasting for several hours daily.

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