Nov 10, Colombo: Sri Lankan authorities called in commandos to control the situation in the main Welikada Prison today following a gunfight broke out between the inmates and prison authorities during yesterday's riots at the prison killed at least 16 inmates.
According to the police spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police Prishantha Jayakody inmates turned unruly and pelted stones at Special Task Force (STF) police officers and prison officials who were there to conduct a raid looking for narcotics and mobile phones. Police in return have fired tear gas to control the inmates.
However, the inmates, who had then broken into the prison's armory and taken the firearms, have started shooting at the STF officers and a shootout between the prisoners and the officers had resulted, the police spokesman said.
The prisoners were seen waving firearms on the rooftop of the prison during the shootout.
The military had been called in yesterday to control the situation at the prison and the army commando unit took total control of the Welikada prison at dawn Saturday, the authorities said.
Commissioner General of Prisons, P.W. Kodippili has said that an unknown number of weapons are in the hands of the prisoners and the authorities are trying to get them back now. Only four firearms have been recovered so far, he has said.
Dr. Anil Jasinghe Director of Colombo National Hospital confirmed that 16 have died and another 43 have received injuries. Among the injured are 13 STF police officers, a prison guard and a civilian.
STF commandant DIG C. Ranawana who was sent to control the riots has also been injured in the shootout. He underwent surgery at the Colombo National Hospital last night.
The stretch from Borella to Dematagoda of the Baseline road has been closed as well as other access roads.