A mob stormed the private residence of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last night around 8 p.m. and set it ablaze.
A crowd of around 200 persons had been gathering outside the residence, located at 5th Lane, Colombo 3 since last evening demanding Mr Wickremesinghe step down as PM. Police had fired tear gas and water cannon at the protesters as they attempted to make their way towards the residence.
Police and Special Task Force (STF) personnel stationed outside the residence also attacked several journalists from Sirasa TV who were covering the incident, beating them on live television. A total of six journalists attached to the network were injured and hospitalised following the attack.
As news of the attack spread, a larger group started to converge at the location. A police bus was violently destroyed and crowds pelted stones towards security personnel and the PM’s residence. The Prime Minister’s office issued a statement saying Mr. Wickremesinghe regretted the attack on journalists and called for restraint by the security forces against the media covering the protests.
The Sunday Times which was at the scene then witnessed a fresh group that arrived at the scene encouraging those who were already protesting to take retaliatory action.
A group eventually broke through the security barricades and stormed the residence around 9 p,m,, setting it on fire.
When a fire engine arrived, the mob prevented the firemen from dousing the fire at the PM’s private residence and only permitted them to hose the neighbouring houses. One of the group took control of the wheel of the fire truck.
Colombo Fire Chief K.A. Vincent told the Sunday Times that they first dispatched one fire engine followed by another after being informed of the fire. “The crew of the first fire engine were threatened by the protesters whilst attempting to douse the fire, forcing them to stop after a while,” he said.
When the Sunday Times news team visited the location, the first engine was idling near the location. The second engine was halfway to the location when both engines were recalled to headquarters at Darley Road in Maradana.
The residence burned fiercely as the engines left the scene.