Thousands of Sri Lankan protesters broke through police barricades and entered President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's official residence in Colombo today in one of the largest anti-government marches in the country.
Protesters holding Sri Lankan flags and helmets broke into the president's residence demanding his resignation. Sri Lanka is reeling under a severe foreign exchange shortage which has resulted in the worst financial crisis in almost seven decades although the protests in the crisis-hit country, since March, have largely remained peaceful.
Videos shared on social media today showed the angry protesters inside the president's house shouting slogans and drinking.
Boisterous Sri Lankan protesters can also be seen in videos jumping into the compound's pool of the colonial-era state mansion for a swim.
Lankan President Rajapaksa was shifted to the Army headquarters last night after intelligence reports warned that the situation "would go out of control". His sudden departure has raised questions as to whether he intended to remain in office.
Sri Lanka Economic Crisis: Protestors Storm Presidential Palace in Colombo; Take a Swim in Pool and Explore the Kitchen (Watch Video)#SriLankaEconomicCrisis#SirLankaProtestors#PresidentGotabayRajapaksa#PresidentialPalace#Colombo # pic.twitter.com/SSmxIRdtKU— Mohammad fasahathullah siddiqui (@MdFasahathullah) July 9, 2022
Footage on social media also showed protesters gathered in the palace's kitchen cooking, laughing and eating food. Essential imports of fuel, food and medicine in the island nation of 22 million people has also been limited amid the crisis.
Remember for last two years Modi Govt managed to provide Free ration for crores of people. In Sri Lanka everything is imported so they could not do so.— Arun Pudur ???????? (@arunpudur) July 9, 2022
Here people are seen eating food in presidential kitchen.pic.twitter.com/9lcbfR8xlu
Earlier in the day, Sri Lankan police had attempted to disperse the crowd and stop the protesters from entering the premises of the presidential residence. Police used firing and tear gas after which three people were injured and 36 others who suffered breathing difficulties hospitalised.
Videos also showed a vehicle convoy belonging to President Rajapaksa at Sri Lanka's main international airport, although there has been no confirmation on whether he left the country.