Sri Lanka's military opened fire to contain rioting at a fuel station, officials said on Sunday as unprecedented queues for petrol and diesel were seen across the bankrupt country.
Troops fired in Visuvamadu, 365 kilometres (228 miles) north of Colombo, on Saturday night as their guard point was pelted with stones, army spokesman Nilantha Premaratne said.
“A group of 20 to 30 people pelted stones and damaged an army truck,” Premaratne told AFP.
Police said four civilians and three soldiers were injured when the army opened fire for the first time to contain unrest linked to the worsening economic crisis.
As the pump ran out of petrol, motorists began to protest and the situation escalated into a clash with troops, police said.
Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since independence, with the country unable to find dollars to import essentials, including food, fuel and medicines.
The nation’s 22 million population has been enduring acute shortages and long queues for scarce supplies while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has for months resisted calls to step down over mismanagement.
Sri Lanka's Agriculture Minister Mahinda Amaraweera on Saturday was jeered by a group of farmers who protested his visit to an agriculture-related programme in Tissamaharama, a town situated in the country’s southern province in Hambantota district, forcing him to flee the premises.