Sri Lanka coronavirus prison riot leaves 8 dead, over 50 wounded

Sri Lanka coronavirus prison riot leaves 8 dead, over 50 wounded
epa08852410 A lone inmate raises his hands while smoke rises from a building near him at the Mahara Prison Complex in the suburbs of Colombo, Sri Lanka, 30 November 2020. A riot by inmates broke out on 29 November at the sprawling at the Mahara maximum security prison, one of the largest prisons in Sri Lanka. By the morning of 30 November, prison authorities confirmed that eight inmates were killed when prison and police officials opened fire at rioters while over 40 others were injured and admitted to the hospital. Presently, according to the Commissioner-General of Prisons, the fire that broke out in some of the buildings has been extinguished and the situation almost brought under control. According to local media reports, 183 inmates of Mahara prison tested positive for COVID-19, increasing the number of COVID-19 infections at Sri Lanka's prisons by 1,091. EPA-EFE/CHAMILA KARUNARATHNE

COLOMBO, Nov 30 (Reuters) - At least eight prisoners were killed and more than 50 injured in clashes with guards at a Sri Lankan prison, officials said on Monday, as authorities tried to quell a protest over rising corornavirus infections in the country's crowded jails.

Sri Lanka has witnessed an upsurge in coronavirus cases in the past month and over-congested prisons across the country have reported thousands of fresh infections.

Inmates have staged protests in recent weeks demanding an increase in coronavirus testing and new isolation facilities for infected prisoners.

The latest clash at Mahara prison situated on the outskirts of the capital Colombo started on Sunday when some inmates protested against prisoners infected by the Covid-19 virus being transferred from other facilities to Mahara.

“We can’t say it for certain but most of the deaths and injuries appear to be due to gunshots,” said Ajith Rohana, a senior police official tracking the incident.

Hundreds of additional police were deployed to help the guards and strengthen security at the prison.

“A majority of prisoners injured in the Mahara jail clashes were in critical condition,” said Shelton Perera, director of the Ragama Hospital where inmates from the prison were undergoing treatment.

The John Hopkins University’s latest data on Sri Lanka says the country has had 22,988 coronavirus cases and 109 deaths.

(Reporting by Waruna Karunatilake in Colombo, Writing by Rupam Jain, Editing by Michael Perry)


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