Prison Shootout in Sri Lanka Prison Leaves 27 Inmates Dead

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During a riot at a Sri Lanka prison, 27 inmates were "gunned down," a spokesman for the main opposition party said, BBC News reported.

The incident, which happened in Sri Lanka's Colombo's Welikada prison, is being referred to as a massacre and one of the bloodiest prison violence in almost three decades. In addition to the 27 inmates that were killed during the massacre, 43 others suffered injuries, said Prisons Minister Chandrasiri gajadeera. He also claimed that 13 police commandos, four soldiers and two civilians were apart of the 43 who were injured, BBC News

After rioting prisoners broke into the armory and momentarily attained control of part of the Welikada prison, the clashes erupted between the inmates and the army and the police commandos. The police commandos shot at the prisoners after the inmates opened fire on them with weapons they had taken from the armories. The violence began on Friday and by Saturday morning the situation had been controlled, and the prison's normalcy was restored, the New York Times reported.

"The prison is now totally under our control," said Sri Lanka's Commissioner General of Prisons P.W. Kodippili. Authorities recaptured five prisoners, said police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody, who had managed to escape during the riot. Although Kodippili refused to comment on exactly how many inmates may have gotten away, he did say search operations were in motion to try to locate those who possibly escaped, the New York Times reported.

Although authorities and prison official seem to be satisfied with how the situation was handled, Mangala Samaraweere of the United National party is not happy with how the events of incident transpired. During the riot, most of the prisoners killed were shot dead by police commandos and soldiers, said Samaraweere. "It's a massacre that has to be condemned. It shows the breakdown of the rule of law in the country," he said, according to Reuters. "[The] information I have is that most of the prisoners were cold-bloodedly gunned down," added Samaraweere added, BBC News reported.

28 people were wounded in the same prison last January because of a conflict between the inmates and the guards; the prisoners were protesting the authorities' attempts to reduce drug smuggling into the prison. There are nearly 4,000 inmates incarcerated at the prison, the New York Times reported.

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