At least eight inmates were killed and more than 50 wounded when guards opened fire to control a riot in a Sri Lankan prison, officials said.
The unrest erupted on Sunday after inmates who were infected with COVID-19 were transferred from other facilities to the Mahara prison on the outskirts of the capital 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 turned into a prison riot”, with inmates trying to take over the jail on Sunday and hundreds trying to break out.
The detainees “allegedly destroyed most of the property, including offices inside the jail,”
Hundreds of additional police came to reinforce the guards and strengthen security in the prison.
“A majority of the prisoners injured in the Mahara prison shocks were in critical condition,” said director Shelton Perera at Ragoma Hospital.
Prisons in the nation face severe congestion problems with more than 26,000 inmates sent to facilities with a capacity of 10,000.
The country has also seen an increase in COVID-19 cases in the last month after two small clusters were discovered near the capital and its suburbs.
Sri Lanka has reported at least 22,900 cases, including 109 deaths, since the pandemic began, according to the latest figures from Johns Hopkins University.
With mail cables