Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled his official residence on Saturday shortly before protesters, angered by an unprecedented economic crisis, overran the compound and stormed his nearby office, APA reports citing BBC.
Thousands of people had surrounded the leader’s home to demand his resignation, blaming government mismanagement for a downturn that has subjected the island nation’s 22 million people to months of bitter hardship.
As the crowd surged at the gates of the presidential palace, troops guarding the compound fired in the air to hold them back until Rajapaksa was safely removed.
“The president was escorted to safety,” a top defense source told AFP on condition of anonymity. “He is still the president, he is being protected by a military unit.”
Footage broadcast live on social media showed hundreds of people walking through the palace, with some among the boisterous crowd jumping into the compound’s pool for a swim.