Sri Lankan forces raid anti-government protest camp


Security forces in Sri Lanka have raided the main anti-government protest camp in the capital early on Friday, arresting protesters and dismantling tents.

Hundreds of troops and police commandos moved on the protesters outside the presidential offices in Colombo, hours before they were due to leave the area.

Police described the incident as a “special operation to take back control of the presidential secretariat”.

It comes as Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as president on Thursday, after ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country last week.

Protests had remained peaceful after Wickremesinghe had been sworn into office on Thursday. Despite deep distrust, many demonstrators had said they would give him a chance to lead the country out of its economic crisis.

In remarks after his inauguration, he said any attempt to topple the government or occupy government buildings was not “not democracy, it is against the law”.

On Friday morning, security forces moved in on the protest camp and reclaimed the building from demonstrators, who had earlier pledged to hand the building back.

The raid took place in the early hours of Friday, at around 01:00 local time on Thursday, Security forces later completely sealed off a section of the road leading to the site.

Tensions between the two groups continued to simmer in the afternoon as about 100 protesters stood off against security forces lined up in rows near the presidential offices.

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