News Karnataka
Thursday, February 02 2023

Sri Lankan prison inmates riot over Covid spread, situation under control

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Colombo: Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Kamal Gunaratne has said the unrest in a prison in Mahara had been completely controlled and investigations were on, according to local media.

As of Tuesday evening, the death toll from the clashes had risen to 11 while those injured were 107, which included two prison guards. All those dead were inmates, police said.

According to the police, clashes erupted on Sunday afternoon within the prison premises when a large group of prisoners broke their cells and attempted to run towards the main gate of the prison, in an attempt to escape, Xinhua reported.

Prison guards immediately opened fire to bring the situation under control.

Initial investigations revealed the inmates were protesting against the spread of Covid-19 pandemic within the prison premises and therefore wanted to be released.

Officials from the prison said at the time the clashes erupted, at least 180 prisoners within the Mahara prison were infected with the virus and they had been isolated from the rest. The Mahara prison holds at least 2,500 prisoners.

Out of the 11 who had died following the clashes, eight had been infected with the virus, police said.

Gunaratne informed legislators on Tuesday that nearly 100 detainees who had been granted bail have been sent home following the PCR tests being done since the incident.

He further explained that there were 21,000 pills of three types used for mental disorders in the drug store of the Mahara prison which the prisoners had broken into and an investigation was ongoing to see if the use of these drugs could have triggered this unrest.

Police said security remains heightened in and around the prison premises.

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