At least eight inmates were killed and more than 50 injured when guards opened fire to control a riot in a Sri Lankan prison, officials said.
The unrest broke out Sunday over inmates infected with COVID-19 being transferred from other facilities to the prison in Mahara, which is on the outskirts of the capital of Colombo.
Prisoners have held protests in recent weeks at several facilities to demand more COVID-19 testing and separate isolation facilities for sick inmates.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said “the unrest situation turned into a prison riot,” with inmates on Sunday attempting to take over the prison and hundreds trying to break free.
The detainees “reportedly destroyed most of the property, including offices inside the prison,” Rohana said.
Hundreds of additional police came to provide reinforcement for the guards and strengthen the security at the prison.
“A majority of prisoners injured in the Mahara jail clashes were in critical condition,” Ragoma Hospital director Shelton Perera said.
Prisons in the nation face severe crowding issues with more than 26,000 inmates sent to facilities with a capacity of 10,000.
The country has also experienced a rise in COVID-19 cases in the last month after two small clusters were detected near the capital and its suburbs.
Sri Lanka has reported at least 22,900 cases, including 109 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
With Post Wires