More than 45 policemen were injured in a brawl with the inmates of Sri Lanka’s largest prison during a drug raid on Sunday morning.
The incident occurred at the high security Welikada prison in Colombo where the country’s worst offenders including suspected cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are housed.
Former army chief and Presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka, is also serving his 30-month rigorous imprisonment term in the same prison.
More than 500 policemen were deployed to find and confiscate drugs. The raiding party was also looking for mobile phones which were allegedly smuggled into the jail and were being used by the inmates.
Reports said 4,000 prisoners were removed from the overcrowded jail for surprise drug raids on Sunday morning.
But the raid turned violent after a large group of prisoners clashed with the raiding police team.
The prisoners attacked the policemen, including personnel from the special task force (STF), with stones and utensils. Reports added that the prisoners did not allow the policemen accompanied by prison officials to enter their cells but pelted stones at them.
Army personnel were subsequently deployed around the prison to keep the situation under control.
According to Daily Mirror online at least 46 police officers and 2 prison officers were admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo with head, chest and abdomen injuries. It could not be immediately known how many prisoners were injured in the incident.
Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms Minister Dew Gunasekera told the website that prison officials were instructed to carry out an inquiry into the clash.
He added that the police had conducted similar raids in prisons across the island and that the raid in Welikada took place after a court warrant was obtained.