At least eight people have been killed and 52 others injured in Sri Lanka after prison riots broke out between guards and inmates, officials said.
The inmates were protesting against the rising coronavirus infections in the prison, demanding early release on bail and better facilities.
Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said guards had “used force to control an unruly situation” in the Mahara prison.
Around 1,000 cases have been reported from the country’s overcrowded prisons.
Local news reports quoted residents who said they had seen a “massive fire” on the premises. Some reported prison guards had opened fire to contain the riot.
This is the latest in a series of prison riots that have taken place in Sri Lanka in recent weeks, as the number of Covid-19 cases in jails continues to increase.
In the capital Colombo, a group of protesters at Welikada jail launched a protest on the top of a prison roof asking that they be granted bail.
Another group of inmates at the Agunakolapalassa prison have been protesting for eight days, alleging that conditions in their prison have worsened.
Rights groups say some 26,000 people are housed across facilities that have a capacity of about 10,000.
Sri Lanka experienced a surge in virus cases last month when two clusters emerged last month.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now 23,484 cases in Sri Lanka with 116 deaths reported.