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Anti-Government Protests in Sri Lanka Turns Deadly

Demonstrators flash flashlights during a candlelight vigil after Sri Lankan police fired live ammunition to scatter protesters, near the Presidential Secretariat, amid the country's economic crisis, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Apr. 19, 2022.

Officials in Sri Lanka have pledged to investigate a clash between police and anti-government protesters Tuesday that ended with the death of a protester.

Protesters had blocked a railway line in the town of Rambukkana, located about 90 kilometers northeast of the capital, Colombo, and had blocked a fuel tanker from crossing tracks when they were confronted by police, who opened fire to disperse the crowd.

At least 13 other demonstrators were injured in Tuesday’s confrontation. Several policemen were also reportedly injured in the clash.

The South Asian island nation is struggling under the weight of heavy debt and declining foreign reserves that have created critical shortages of medicine, food and fuel that have led to several hours of power blackouts a day and led to rising fuel and transportation costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has also ground Sri Lanka’s vital tourism industry to a halt, dealing an additional blow to its economy.

Demonstrations have broken out across Sri Lanka over the last few weeks, with protesters demanding the resignations of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka’s central bank has suspended all foreign debt repayments as it negotiates with the International Monetary Fund on a loan restructuring program.