Mahinda Rajapaksa was rescued in a pre-dawn military operation after day of protests in which five people were killed.
Rajapaksa had to be rescued in a pre-dawn operation by the military on Tuesday after thousands of anti-government protesters stormed his official residence in Colombo overnight, with police firing teargas and warning shots to keep back the crowd.
Protesters who forced their way into the capital’s “Temple Trees” residence then attempted to storm the main two-storey building where Rajapaksa was holed up with his immediate family.
“After a pre-dawn operation, the former PM and his family were evacuated to safety by the army,” a top security official told AFP. “At least 10 petrol bombs were thrown into the compound.”
Rajapaksa’s evacuation to an undisclosed location followed a day of violent protests in which five people, including a lawmaker, were killed and nearly 200 wounded.
The security official said police kept up a barrage of teargas and fired warning shots in the air to hold back mobs at all three entrances to the colonial-era building, a key symbol of state power.
Dozens of homes of top Rajapaksa loyalists were torched elsewhere in the curfew-bound country, which has been under a state of emergency since Friday.