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Riots at Welikada prison after STF tries to search inmates

 14:57 GMT

In breaking news, riots have broken out between inmates at the Welikada prison and the Sri Lankan security forces. 

Reports coming through state that on Friday afternoon, Sri Lanka's Special Task Force (STF) and prison intelligence unit conducted a search operation on inmates in the L and Chappell units of the prison, citing authorisation by the minister of prisons and reforms.

As inmates protested, STF personnel fired tear gas at the protesters. The situation continued to escalate, with several inmates climbing onto the roof of the prison in protest, and news coming through of serious injuries and fatalities.

Photograph SundayTimes.lk

Latest reports state that the Sri Lankan military and STF have stormed the building, and that protesting inmates are armed, having successfully broken into the fire arms unit at the prison. 

At least six inmates are believed to be in a critical condition and remain inside the prison. The Deputy Inspector General of the STF, C. Ranawana, is reported to have been injured and has been taken to hospital.

Welikada prison houses a number of Tamil political detainees, who earlier this year protested after the death of a fellow political detainee at the hands of Sri Lankan security forces.

Previous prison riots, notably in 2000, 1997 and 1983, have resulted in Tamil political prisoners being murdered by Sinhala mobs.

See related articles:

Over 200 Tamil prisoners on hunger strike (21 May 2012)

Tamil detainees launch hunger strike (18 May 2012)

Tamil prisoners moved as riots engulf Welikada prison (24 Jan 2012)


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