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Rajapaksas ancestral home burnt down in Hambantota, Mahinda evacuated to safety

Violence flared up on Tuesday after 'GotaGoHome' protestors were attacked in Colombo by Rajapaksa supporters (Photo: IANS/Pradeep Pathirana)

Violence continued to spiral in Sri Lanka late till Monday night as people, angry over attacks perpetrated by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on anti-government protestors, continued to burn down properties owned by people close to the island's first family.

Former prime minister Mahinda, who had resigned yesterday, had to be escorted out of his Colombo home on Tuesday morning by soldiers after the protestors breached the main gate of his home. Mahinda and his family members, literally surrounded by an angry mob, were taken to safety by the army in a pre-dawn operation.

The former prime minister and his family were evacuated to an undisclosed location.

President Rajapaksa declared a nation-wide curfew on Monday evening after unprecedented violence. Five people were reportedly dead and nearly 200 injured in violence across the country on Monday. People vented their anger on the properties and vehicles owned by influential leaders close to the Rajapaksa regime and torched nearly a dozen homes.

People also torched a luxury hotel belonging to a female shaman in Anuradhapura who is believed to be close to the Rajapaksa family. Gnakka's residence too was destroyed in public fury.

In mounting pressure on the Rajapaksas, opposition leaders called for the arrest of the former prime minister for inciting violence that led to arson and rioting. The protests that had been going on for close to six weeks had largely been peaceful till Monday.

Meanwhile the US has expressed its concern over the violence in Sri Lanka. In a tweet the US State Department Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) said: "Closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka. We are deeply concerned by the violence against peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders, and are urging all Sri Lankans to focus on finding and enabling long-term solutions to the country’s economic and political challenges".

For the past many weeks, people distressed by soaring inflation and daily hardships have been protesting across Colombo. Many had permanently occupied the Galle Face seafront that links up to the top offices of the Sri Lankan administration.

The nation is caught up in its worst crisis due to its heavy foreign debt as well as the inability to import food, medicines and oil.  The main demand of the protestors has been the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksa family that exerts immense political clout in national affairs.