Nov 10, Colombo: A committee has been appointed to probe one of the deadliest prison riots in the history of Sri Lanka's main Welikada Prison in Colombo after a shootout between the inmates and the police officers on Friday killed at least 27 inmates and left 43 people injured.
Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Chandrasiri Gajadeera has said that he has appointed a three-member committee to investigate the incident.
Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said an Army commando unit is assisting the authorities to bring the situation at the country's largest and crowded prison under control.
The government deployed the military commando unit to regain control in the main prison complex after the elite Special Task Force police came under fire from the prisoners.
The authorities say the situation has been completely brought under control at present, and they are now trying to recover the weapons the inmates have taken during the clash.
Police said they have recovered 72 weapons grabbed from the armory by prisoners to battle with STF personnel and are investigating to recover 6 more weapons removed during the clash.
Meanwhile, operations are underway to arrest prisoners who have escaped with weapons during the clash, Minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Chandrasiri Gajadeera has told media.
Five prisoners were believed to have escaped during the clash and three escapees have been apprehended by the Borella Police, Commissioner General of Prisons, P.W. Kodippili said.
The deadly shootout erupted after the inmates broke into the prison's armory and grabbed weapons. Inmates then climbed to the roof top and started firing at the elite police commandos of the Special Task Force (STF) who had been deployed to quell a tense situation resulted from a raid by prison officials earlier.
Military spokesman Brigadier Wanigasooriya told media that soldiers recovered six bodies of inmates from the prison on Saturday morning.
The Director of the Colombo National Hospital Dr. Anil Jasinghe confirmed yesterday that 16 bodies were brought to the hospital. The bodies are currently lying at the hospital morgue.
Out of the 43 injured, four are receiving treatment at the intensive care units, Dr. Jasinghe said. Commanding Officer of the STF, Deputy Inspector General C.Ranawana is among the four in the ICU after undergoing surgery last night.
Among the injured are 13 Special Task Force officers, 23 prison inmates, and 4 soldiers and a passerby.
Brigadier Wanigasooriya said that an internal investigation over the incident is currently underway.
Damage to the prison property is yet to be estimated, the Commissioner General of Prisons noted.
Baseline Road, the main road that borders the prison which was closed yesterday has been reopened now after the situation has been brought under control, the police spokesman SSP Prishantha Jayakody said.