COVID-19: Eight dead, 50 injured in Sri Lanka prison riot

Elias Hubbard
December 1, 2020

Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said inmates created "unrest" at Mahara prison, about 10 miles north of Colombo, on Sunday, and officials attempted to control the situation.

A riot at Sri Lanka's main Welikada prison in 2012 saw 27 inmates killed by police commandos, who have since been accused of execution-style murders.

He said teams of Special Task Force personnel have been sent to bolster security at the prison.

Two inmates have died of the disease, and more than 1,200 guards and prisoners have been infected, officials say. It is said that this may have been the reason for the unrest of the prisoners.

Police said inmates set fire to the kitchens and briefly took two wardens hostage. The tense situation arose at the Mahara Prison on Sunday (29) evening.

It has been reported that hundreds of inmates broke into the prison pharmacy, assaulted the officers at the pharmacy and got high on narcotic medicines.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ali Sabry too appointed a five-committee to probe the riot at the Mahara Prison.

A family member of an inmate pleads at the feet of a policeman as she seeks information on the condition of her relative outside the Mahara prison complex
COVID-19 surge triggers deadly prison riot in Sri Lanka

Additional Secretary to the State Ministry of Prison Reforms and Prisoners' Rehabilitation Nishan Danasinghe has been appointed as the secretary of the committee.

She further said that the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) too has been requested to investigate the unrest, the report said. About 50 prison guards have also tested positive.

Sri Lanka has witnessed an upsurge in coronavirus cases in the past month and over-congested prisons across the country have reported thousands of fresh infections.

Last week, a prisoner was killed when he fell while trying to scale the walls of a jail in the central Bogambara region during unrest. Another prisoner died in March.

There are about 26,000 prisoners held in facilities that have a capacity of about 10,000, according to rights groups in the country.

While Sri Lanka initially successfully curbed the spread of the virus with curfews and strict lockdown measures, the country suffered a second outbreak in October, increasing the total outbreak to 23,484 cases and 116 deaths.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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