Sri Lanka PM quits after protesters clash

STORY: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday (May 9), hours after clashes with pro- and anti-government demonstrators in Colombo.

That, he said in a letter, to make way for a unity government to try to find a way out of the country's worst economic crisis in history - one which has spurred weeks of unprecedented demonstrations.

But (despite some scenes of jubilation), protesters said they also wanted his brother to stand down as president.

The day of chaos and violence began with hundreds of ruling party supporters rallying outside the prime minister's official residence before marching to an anti-government protest site outside the presidential office.

Pro-government supporters, some armed with iron bars, attacked anti-government demonstrators at the "Gota Go Gama" tent village that sprang up last month and became the focal point of nationwide protests.

Police used tear gas rounds and water cannon to break up the confrontation.

A curfew was imposed across the country.

At least nine people were taken to Colombo's National Hospital for treatment relating to injuries or tear-gas inhalation, a hospital official said, declining to be named.

Sri Lanka's economy has been hit hard by the global health crisis, rising oil prices and tax cuts.

Long queues for cooking gas in recent days have frequently turned into impromptu protests.

Domestic energy companies said they were running low on stocks of liquid petroleum gas mainly used for cooking.

The finance minister said last week that the country has as little as $50 million of useable foreign reserves.

The government has approached the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

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