Sri Lanka opposition wants probe into prison clash

AP News
Posted: Nov 11, 2012 5:21 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka's opposition on Sunday demanded a thorough investigation into a prison shootout that killed 27 inmates.

Tissa Attanayake, a leader of United National Party said that clashes inside prisons have become frequent in Sri Lanka and their causes must be examined. The opposition says such incidents damage the country reputation internationally.

Twenty-seven prisoners were killed after Friday's clash when police commandos tried to search the Welikada Prison facility in Colombo for narcotics. The clash wounded at least 42 others including police commandos and soldiers who went for the search and were brought in as reinforcement to quell the unrest.

Another Marxist opposition party, People's Liberation Front, blamed the government for the use of armed soldiers and police commandos for the search.

"Deploying military personnel in civilian affairs as well as improvidently using them in prisons for inspections would bring dire results," the party said in a statement.

Officials said the clash erupted when prisoners attacked the search team and armed themselves by breaking into the armory.

At least two suspects died following another prison revolt in June, and human rights campaigners alleged they died after being beaten by guards. They were suspected to have been linked to the now-defeated Tamil Tiger rebels who waged a quarter-century separatist war against the state.

The government promised an inquiry, but there has been no result.

Also, less-deadly clashes took place at Welikada earlier this year and also in 2010.