Several protesters have been injured after Sri Lankan forces raided an anti-government camp at the president’s office.
Media footage showed soldiers in riot gear and armed with assault rifles tearing down the camp, which was set up by demonstrators in April.
Activists stormed the president’s home and office as well as the prime minister’s residence in Colombo over their outrage at the country’s economic situation.
Corruption and mismanagement have left the island nation laden in debt, causing severe shortages of fuel, food and medicines.
“A joint operation involving the military, police and police special forces was launched in the early hours to recover the presidential secretariat from the protesters as they have no legal right to hold it,” police spokesperson Nalin Thalduwa said.
“Nine people, including two injured, have been arrested.”
During the protests, people flocked to the president’s residence, swimming in the pool, playing games in the corridors and having picnics in the garden.
In recent days, they have feared a crackdown was imminent after a new president was sworn in.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was seen as an ally of his ousted predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa, came to power on Thursday – just a day after lawmakers chose him to finish the term of the former president.
Mr Rajapaksa fled the country with his wife and bodyguards just days after activists took over.
Organisers of the demonstrations said hundreds of security personnel surrounded the protest camp after midnight and then took apart a section of it.
At least 50 activists injured, organisers claim
In the early hours of Friday morning, dozens of troops marched through the area and rows of protesters’ tents were cleared out.
At least 50 activists were injured, with some beaten by security forces, the organisers added.
“They beat us really cruelly,” said Buddhika Abeyrathne, a protester who witnessed the raid but did not appear injured himself.
“Mr Wickremesinghe doesn’t know what democracy is.”
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Protesters had vowed to occupy the official buildings until the top leaders had stepped down.
Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since Monday and a nationwide curfew had been in place until Thursday morning.
The president is expected to appoint Rajapaksa ally Dinesh Gunewardena as prime minister along with a new cabinet later on Friday.
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