By Karen Diep
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – On Friday, a standoff between inmates and prison authorities in the Welikada prison left at least 27 prisoners dead and 42 people wounded.
Violence erupted when hundreds of Sri Lankan policemen arrived to provide additional security to prison authorities searching for illegal items, drugs and mobiles among the prisoners. Inmates subsequently broke into the armory and momentarily took control of at least a portion of the prison.
Media reports showed inmates on the rooftop shooting at both policemen and prison authorities below. According to Mahinda Perera, a nearby resident, the standoff sounded like “a mini-war at the prison.”
Nonetheless, the situation has stabilized as of today. “The prison is now totally under our control,” reassured Sri Lanka’s Commissioner General of Prisons P.W. Kodippili. Furthermore, Mr. Kodippili believes that authorities discovered the bodies of 11 other inmates inside the prison ground.
Witnesses to the standoff attested that prison guards immediately fired at fleeing inmates.
Moreover, according to BBC, the Sri Lankan police acted without a court order, which initially aggravated the inmates.
The Prison Minister, Chandrasiri Gajadeera, stated that a three-member probe committee will examine the event.
For further information, please see:
ABC News – 27 Inmates Killed in Sri Lanka Prison Shootout – 10 November 2012
BBC – Sri Lanka’s Welikada prison clash leaves 27 dead – 10 November 2012
The Hindu – Sri Lanka prison riot death toll rises to 27 – 10 November 2012