Prison riot leaves eight inmates dead and 50 injured after guards open fire

A prison riot left at least eight inmates dead and more than 50 injured after clashes with guards.

Police said most of the victims at Mahara prison, on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, appeared to have been shot.

Prisoners reportedly tried to take control of the jail and hundreds tried to escape.

The violence broke out as authorities tried to quell a protest on Sunday over rising coronavirus infections in the country’s crowded prisons.

The riot started on Sunday when some inmates protested against infected prisoners virus being transferred from other jails to Mahara.

Hundreds of extra police officers were sent to help the guards and strengthen security at the prison.

Hospital bosses said the bulk of injured inmates were left in a “critical condition”.

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said prisoners created “unrest” which “turned into a prison riot”, AP News reported.

He said they “destroyed most of the property including offices inside the prison” and tried to take control.

The guards opened fire, he added.

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

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

Around 500 relatives of prisoners gathered in front of the site on Monday.

They called on officials to give them information about the inmates and to make sure they are kept safe in the facility.

Sri Lanka has seen an upsurge in Covid-19 cases in the past month.

There have been thousands of fresh infections in the country’s over-congested jails.

Lags have staged protests in recent weeks demanding more testing and new isolation facilities for infected prisoners.

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

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