Sri Lanka lifted a nationwide curfew for 12 hours on Saturday, further easing tight restrictions as the country's new prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, tries to form a government after clashes with anti-government groups have left nine people dead, Reuters reported.

More than a month of mostly peaceful protests against the government escalated into violence this week after supporters of former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa broke into an anti-government protest camp in the capital, Colombo, burned tents and attacked demonstrators.

More than 300 people were injured in the initial clashes.

The government lifted the curfew from 6 am Saturday to 6 pm. A 24-hour curfew imposed on Monday was lifted for several hours on Thursday and Friday to allow residents to stock up on essentials.

Rajapaksa resigned after the outbreak of violence on Monday, leaving his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the presidency.

As a result of the pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts, Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Useful foreign reserves dwindled, and rampant inflation and fuel shortages brought thousands to the streets in protest.