Colombo, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- At least eight people were killed and nearly 50 injured during a riot in a Colombo prison following a protest by the inmates calling for security measures in the wake of Covid-19 outbreaks inside jails, authorities reported on Monday.
The riots, which began on Sunday afternoon in the Mahara prison in the Sri Lankan capital, turned violent during the night when the prisoners set fire to the premises, police spokesperson Ajith Rohana told the media.
All those dead are prisoners, while there are two guards among those injured, the spokesperson confirmed.
Security has been reinforced at the prison and the situation is under control, the press office of the police told EFE.
However, several family members of the inmates began to demonstrate on Monday in front of the prison urging the authorities to allow them to meet their relatives, or at least give information about who was injured in the riot.
At least two people have died, and two escape attempts have been recorded in recent months during protests related to the spread of the novel coronavirus inside prisons.
On Sunday the inmates at Mahara prison began protesting at the gates, urging authorities to provide them with sufficient protection against the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to the prison’s spokesperson Thushara Upuldeniya, nearly 1,000 Covid-19 infections have been detected across several prisons in the island nation.
The government has taken steps to release some 600 prisoners, who are in pre-trial detention for minor offenses, through a presidential pardon in an attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus inside prisons, Upuldeniya told the media.
The riot at Mahara is the latest in a series of protests and unrest that have erupted in prison centers since the start of the pandemic earlier this year.
The prisoners have repeatedly attempted to highlight their concerns about the consequences of an outbreak inside the country’s densely populated jails.
So far, the Sri Lankan authorities have recorded more than 23,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including 116 deaths. EFE-EPA