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Sri Lanka shooting wounds three amid political crisis

Supporters have gathered outside Mr Wickramasinghe's residenceImage copyright
AFP

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Supporters have gathered outside Mr Wickramasinghe’s residence

Three people have been injured after a Sri Lankan MP’s bodyguard fired at a mob in the capital, Colombo, police say, amid a growing political crisis.

Arjuna Ranatunga was petroleum minister under sacked prime minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. Protesters were trying to stop him entering his office.

Earlier, President Maithripala Sirisena replaced Mr Wickramasinghe with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and suspended parliament.

Critics say it is unconstitutional.

Mr Wickramasinghe says he is still prime minister.

How did the shooting happen?

It occurred as Mr Ranatunga tried to enter his office at the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation.

The bodyguard has been arrested and an investigation is under way, police said.

What other signs of tension are there?

Sri Lankan parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has urged Mr Sirisena to reconsider his decision to suspend parliament, saying it would have serious and undesirable consequences.

Rival groups supporting Mr Rajapaksa and Mr Wickramasingh have been gathering at different locations in Colombo.

  • Profile: Mahinda Rajapaksa
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Mr Rajapaksa’s supporters are reported to have forcibly taken over Sri Lankan state media. Mr Jayasuriya said that this would have serious international implications.

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Mr Rajapaksa has been accused of massive corruption and atrocities during the country’s civil war

Trade unions linked to Mr Rajapaksa’s party have also been blocking access to ministers who are from Mr Wickramasinghe’s party, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile hundreds of Wickramasinghe supporters have gathered around the prime minister’s Temple Trees residence.

Why is there a crisis?

President Sirisena fired Mr Wickramasinghe after the president’s United People’s Freedom Alliance party (UPFA) quit the government.

Mr Wickramasinghe helped the president triumph in the 2015 poll, but the pair reportedly clashed in cabinet recently over government plans to lease a port to India.

The prime minister and his United National Party (UNP) came to power promising accountability for alleged atrocities committed in Sri Lanka’s civil war and during Mr Rajapaksa’s period as president.

President Sirisena had been an ally of and minister under Mr Rajapaksa before turning against him.

Mr Rajapaksa ended the civil war in 2009, but faced criticism for the means by which he achieved victory – many thousands of Tamil civilians are thought to have been killed by government forces in the final months of the fighting.

Over the 26-year conflict, between 80,000 and 100,000 people are estimated to have died, with both sides alleged to have perpetrated war crimes.

Moreover, the former president is also accused of corruption on an epic scale, along with his inner circle.


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