After scores of people were hospitalised when government supporters armed with sticks and clubs beat demonstrators, Sri Lankan authorities imposed a statewide curfew and deployed the army on Monday.

“The violence against peaceful demonstrators today,” the US ambassador to Sri Lanka said, “and call on the government to undertake a complete investigation, including the arrest and punishment of anybody who incited violence.”

In the island’s greatest economic crisis since independence, Sri Lankans have endured months of blackouts and severe shortages of food, gasoline, and medicines, provoking weeks of overwhelmingly nonviolent anti-government protests.

The largest skirmishes since the start of the crisis occurred in Colombo on Monday, when supporters of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s family and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda, went on the rampage, according to AFP reporters on the scene.

Police used tear gas and water cannon and proclaimed an instant curfew in Colombo, which was eventually extended to the entire 22-million-strong South Asian island nation.

At least 78 persons were injured, according to Pushpa Soysa, a spokeswoman for the Colombo National Hospital.

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