At least one person was killed and 12 others injured in Sri Lanka after police opened fire to disperse protestors Tuesday in the central town of Rambukkana, according to media reports.
The clashes broke out as the government started talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance while demonstrators took to the streets to protest economic mismanagement and recent fuel price hikes, according to the daily Ceylon Today.
Demonstrators blocked railway tracks in Rambukkana and pelted police with stones, according to police spokesman Nihal Thalduwa.
Security forces initially used tear gas to disperse the crowd, police said.
While a curfew was declared in the region, the injured were reportedly taken to the hospital, with four in serious condition.
Sri Lanka has started negotiations with the IMF for urgent financial assistance after it defaulted on all of its foreign debt, facing the worst economic crisis in decades and sparking massive protests.
The island nation's foreign reserves dipped due to a drastic drop in tourism during the coronavirus pandemic.
The government is also engaged in talks with China and India for a possible economic lifeline to mitigate the pressure.
According to Chinese state media, Beijing has decided to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to Colombo.