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Police kill one in Sri Lanka amid widespread protests over acute fuel shortage

Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Party activists and supporters shout anti-government slogans during a demonstration in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on April 19, 2022.

Police in Sri Lanka have killed a protester and wounded 24 others during protests against the government over the island nation's severe fuel shortage and economic crisis.

Spontaneous protests broke out across Sri Lanka on Tuesday, with tens of thousands of angry protesters burning tires and motorists blocking a major road leading into the capital, Colombo, according to police and local officials.

Police fired live rounds at a crowd that had blockaded a railway line and highway connecting Colombo with the central city of Kandy.

Local media footage showed dozens of police officers wearing anti-riot gear firing tear gas into the crowd.

A hospital official confirmed to AFP that one man had "died of gunshot injuries."

Another 16 protesters were wounded, with eight in need of emergency surgery.

Police said that eight officers were also injured when demonstrators threw back tear gas canisters.

Several gatherings were also staged across the South Asian country during the day, after the country's main petrol retailer hiked prices by nearly 65 percent.

The protesters were calling for the resignation of the government, which is widely blamed for the country's crippling economic crisis.

In a bid to address growing calls for his government to resign, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday appointed a new cabinet.

Dozens of lawmakers from the ruling party have turned against the administration and on Tuesday took seats on opposition benches in the parliament.

The government sent a delegation to Washington to open bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday. Colombo is seeking three to four billion dollars from the IMF to overcome its balance-of-payments crisis and boost depleted reserves.

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