Sri Lankan security forces raided a protest camp occupying government grounds in the main city of Colombo early on Friday and cleared out a section of it, a sign that the country's new president was cracking down a day after his swearing-in.

Media footage showed soldiers in riot gear and armed with assault rifles tearing down the camp, set up in April by protesters enraged with the country's economic collapse that has caused severe shortages of fuel, food and medicines.

"A joint operation involving the military, police and police special forces was launched in the early hours to recover the presidential secretariat from the protesters as they have no legal right to hold it," police spokesperson Nalin Thalduwa said.