At least three people were killed and more than 150 wounded on Monday in a wave of violence between government supporters and demonstrators demanding President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation.
As clashes spread, the authorities imposed an indefinite curfew across the nation of 22 million people and called in the military to help contain the violence.
However, anti-government protesters who had been demonstrating peacefully since 9 April began retaliating across the island.
Here are the key incidents:
MP shoots protesters in violence
Leaving the capital on Monday, ruling-party legislator Amarakeerthi Athukorala opened fire on demonstrators blocking his vehicle, killing a 27-year-old man and wounding two others.
Police said the MP later took his own life. The MP’s bodyguard was also killed, but it was not clear how.
Rajapaksa museum destroyed
Mobs attacked the controversial Rajapaksa museum in the ruling family’s ancestral village of Meda Mulana in the deep south of the island and razed it to the ground, police said.
Two wax statutes of the Rajapaksa parents were flattened and mobs trashed the building, constructed in 2014 when Mahinda was president.
A court case is pending over the alleged use of state funds to build the museum costing over half a million dollars.
Police said Mahinda’s home in his Hambantota constituency was also attacked on Monday evening.
Angry mobs stormed the house of Sanath Nishantha, an MP for the ruling party, in the district of Puttalam and set fire to it after damaging property and vehicles. Nishantha was seen with mobs raiding the anti-government “Gota go home” campaign in the capital.
And the home of Saman Lal Fernando, mayor in the Colombo suburb of Moratuwa, was set ablaze hours after he took eight busloads of municipal workers to express solidarity with the Rajapaksas.
A tourist hotel owned by a close associate of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s children was also set ablaze, along with a Lamborghini car parked inside. There were no casualties among foreign guests, police said.
Hospital blocked during the violence
Doctors at the main Colombo National Hospital intervened to rescue government supporters who were wounded in clashes with anti-Rajapaksa demonstrators.
“They may be murderers, but for us they are patients who must be treated first,”
a doctor shouted at a mob blocking the entrance to the emergency unit.
Soldiers had to break the locks to force open the gates and enter the hospital to bring in several wounded government supporters.
Enraged anti-government protesters grabbed dozens of people who attacked them and pushed them into the shallow Beira Lake near the prime minister’s official residence.
“I came because I got a job from Mahinda (Rajapaksa),”
a man said as he pleaded to be allowed out of the highly polluted lake. Police tried to rescue the man and more than a dozen others, but were badly outnumbered by angry anti-government activists.
Three pick-up trucks were also pushed into the lake, along with two buses which transported Rajapaksa loyalists.
Bonfire with buses
Dozens of buses used by Rajapaksa loyalists to travel to Colombo earlier in the day were torched or damaged across the country.
In the suburb of Maharagama, mobs ordered the leader of the group out of the bus and tossed him into a garbage cart, before smashing the bus with a bulldozer.
In the heart of the capital, three buses used to transport Rajapaksa loyalists were damaged. Police said mobs had also taken over exits from main expressways to target government supporters returning to their provincial towns.
© Agence France-Presse