Six prisoners mainly linked to the underworld were shot dead by guards when they attempted to escape from a jail in Sri Lanka early on Wednesday, an official in Colombo said.
Eleven prisoners at the Kalutara prison, about 45 km south of Colombo, tried to escape from their cells around at 3 am after cutting the iron bars.
"The prison officers fired at the escaping inmates, killing six and wounding four. One prisoner returned to his cell," Major General Vajira Wijegunawardena, Sri Lanka's prisons chief, told IANS.
Wijegunawardena said all who tried to escape were classified "special prisoners". Each of them had at least four or five major criminal cases against them.
"Some had been convicted and were facing more criminal cases. Most of them were members of underworld criminal gangs, facing charges of killing, robbery and related crimes," Wijegunawardena said.
He said it was "unfortunate" that prisoners had tried to escape during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festive season, thinking that the security arrangements would be lax during those days.