with the police and the army outside the residence of President Rajapaksa in a suburb of the capital, Colombo. The island nation of 22million is in the midst of its worst economic crisis in years with power outages up to 13 hours a day as the government scrambles to secure foreign currency to pay for fuel imports .

Indian traders have started loading 40,000 tonnes of rice for rapid shipment to Sri Lanka in the first major food aid since Colombo secured a line of credit from New Delhi, two officials told Reuters on Saturday.

Economic policy experts say an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout is the only viable option for Sri Lanka to tackle its nearly $4 billion debt. The IMF will begin discussions with the Sri Lankan authorities on a possible loan program in the “coming days”, an IMF spokesman said on Thursday.

The opposition condemns the state of emergency declared by President Rajapaksa. “We call on #President@GotabayaR to immediately rescind this Gazette notification. You cannot stifle protests and opposition to the regime by declaring a state of #emergency. I call on other members of #Parliament not to not endorse this ill-advised decision,” MA Sumanthiran, MP, said in a tweet.

The latest official data released on Friday showed inflation in Colombo hit 18.7 percent in March, the sixth consecutive monthly record. Food prices soared 30.1%, a record.

The southern towns of Galle, Matara and Moratuwa have also seen anti-government protests, and similar protests have been reported in northern and central regions. All blocked traffic on major roads.

In the mountainous town of Nuwara Eliya, activists blocked the opening of a flower display by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s wife, Shiranthi, police said.

The capital has been placed under an indefinite curfew following the violence.

Security forces fired into the crowd and used tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters, who were demanding Rajapaksa’s resignation.

A protest of hundreds attempting to storm the home of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa turned violent on Thursday, with at least one man seriously injured, as residents criticized the government’s handling of the crippling economic crisis from the country.

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