Death toll reaches 8 in attempted SL prison break

The death toll in an attempted prison break from a maximum-security prison in Mahara, on the outskirts of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, has increased to eight, while 45 others were injured, police said on Monday.

Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana told Xinhua news agency that all those who have died were inmates, while the injured included prison guards, with some of them in critical condition.

Rohana said severe unrest broke out within the prison premises on Sunday afternoon 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.

Prison guards immediately opened fire to bring the situation under control, during which an inmate was killed and several others seriously wounded.

The police spokesman said the inmates were protesting against a spread of the novel coronavirus within the prison and therefore wanted to be released.

Officials from the prison said at least 180 prisoners within the Mahara prison were infected with the virus and they had been isolated from the rest.

The inmate holds at least 2,500 prisoners.

Rohana said security has been tightened in and outside the prison premises and the police special task force has been deployed.

On Sunday evening, prisoners set fire within the prison premises. The blaze was completely doused by early Monday, he said.

Till Monday morning, police officers were still attempting to bring the situation under control.

The Mahara prison is one among five prisons in the country which has reported Covid-19 outbreaks among inmates and prison guards, local media reported.

According to official figures, over 1,000 inmates from five prisons across the country have tested positive for the pandemic in recent weeks.