One person was killed and 15 injured in Sri Lanka’s Rambukkana town on Tuesday as the police opened fire to disperse protestors, reported PTI.

This is the first killing in protests in Sri Lanka which started last month over an economic crisis in the country. The protestors have been demanding the resignations of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Amid a decline in the country’s foreign currency reserves and huge public debts, Sri Lankans are facing shortages of medicines, milk powder, cooking gas, kerosene and other essential items.

On Tuesday, the residents of Rambukkana were protesting a shortage of fuel and hike in its prices. The rates were increased by nearly Rs 80 per litre on Monday, reported the Hindustan Times. The police fired at the protestors who had blocked a highway, resulting in injuries and death, hospital and police officials told AFP.

Police spokesperson Nihal Thalduwa said the force opened fire to control the situation.

“Fifteen people who were injured in the incident were brought to the hospital and three are in critical condition having sustained quite severe injuries to their abdomen region,” a doctor at the state-run Kegalle Hospital told Reuters.

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On March 31, protestors had attempted to storm Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home in Colombo, leading to clashes with the police.

A day later on April 1, the Sri Lankan government had declared a state of emergency. Imposing emergency had given Rajapaksa sweeping powers to detain demonstrators and seize property, but protests seeking his dismissal had continued despite the order.

On April 5, the president had revoked the emergency hours after his ruling coalition lost the majority in Parliament.

Sri Lanka’s entire Cabinet, except Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa, had resigned from their positions on April 3. On Monday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed a new Cabinet, which does not include Chamal Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa and Namal Rajapaksa, members of the ruling family. They had earlier held key portfolios.

Economic crisis

This is Sri Lanka’s worst economic meltdown since it gained independence from Britain in 1948.

Authorities have imposed 13-hour daily power cuts due to a shortage of fuel to operate power plants.

On Sunday, state-run petroleum corporation had began rationing fuel – one the many commodities in shortage in the island nation.

Hundreds of bakeries in the country have shut down because of lack of cooking gas. Several state-run hospitals have stopped conducting surgeries and a state of public health emergency has been declared.

The government has also indefinitely postponed school examinations for Classes 9, 10 and 11 because it does not have stocks on which to print question papers.

Last week, Sri Lanka had said it would default on its entire external debt worth $51 billion (over Rs 3.88 lakh crore) till it receives a bailout from the International Monetary Fund. A country’s external debt pertains to the money borrowed by it from foreign lenders through commercial banks, governments or international financial institutions.