8 killed, 52 injured in Sri Lanka prison unrest amid virus fear
Published: 04:43 PM, 30 November 2020
A team of police commandos has been assigned to strengthen the security around the Mahara Prison in Sri Lanka; Photo: Collected
Inmates at a Sri Lankan prison have clashed with prison guards demanding early release, including improvements to the internal system amid fears of coronavirus outbreak in jail. At least eight people were killed and 52 injured in the incident.
The incident took place at the country’s Mahara Prison on Monday, the AFP news agency reported, citing authorities.
It is learned that nearly 1,000 inmates have been infected with the pandemic virus in Sri Lanka’s overcrowded prisons. As a result, there is a lot of panic among the inmates in different prisons about the virus.
Ajith Rohana, a police spokesman, said on Monday that the guards at the Mahara Prison had “used force to control the chaotic situation”.
According to media reports, the guards fired gunshots to stop the violence. Citing residents in the vicinity of the prison, local news reports said they saw a “huge fire” in the jail premises.
The injured have been admitted to the local Ragama hospital, Sub-Inspector of Police Ajith Rohana told BBC Sinhala.
“A team of police commandos has been assigned to strengthen the security around the Mahara Prison, while five police teams have also been deployed,” Rohana said.
The recent increase in the number of Covid-19 patients in Sri Lankan prisons has led to several prison violence.
A group of inmates at the Welikada Prison in the capital Colombo climbed to the top of a prison building to protest for getting bail.
Another group of inmates at Angunakolapelessa Prison has been protesting for eight days, alleging that “conditions at their prison have worsened”.
Rights groups say Sri Lanka’s prisons have a capacity of 10,000 but hold about 26,000 inmates.
Last month, virus infections in Sri Lanka’s garment factories and fish markets increased anew.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of coronavirus patients identified in Sri Lanka is 23,484 and 116 deaths have been reported so far.