Sri Lanka: Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga arrested over fatal shooting

Sri Lanka’s petroleum minister Arjuna Ranatunga was arrested on Monday for the violent incident that killed one person during the ongoing political crisis in the country, police said.

The incident occurred on Sunday when bodyguards of 54-year-old Ranatunga, a loyalist of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, fired live rounds at the supporters of the new premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, leaving one person dead.

Ranatunga, captain of Sri Lanka’s 1996 cricket World Cup winning side was taken in after trade unions accused him of ordering the shooting.

Sunday’s shooting was the first since President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe, plunging the country into a constitutional crisis. 

On Monday, Unions went on strike in protest over the shooting, sparking long queues for fuel at gas stations.

According to Ranatunga’s office, hundreds of people gathered at the ministry on Sunday when Ranatunga appeared, beating his staff and trying to take him hostage. Therefore, one of Ranatunga’s bodyguards, a policeman, opened fire.

Three people were struck, one person succumbed to his injuries and two others were hospitalised in the shooting incident and the bodyguard was arrested on Sunday following a tense situation.

Sri Lanka is facing a political crisis after President Sirisena sacked prime minister Wickremesinghe on Friday and replaced him with former strongman Rajapaksa.