Six prisoners shot dead in Sri Lanka

April 15th, 2009 - 10:26 am ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, Apr 15 (IANS) At least six prisoners were shot dead by guards when they attempted to escape from a jail in Sri Lanka in the early hours of Wednesday, an official here said.

A group of 11 prisoners housed at the Kalutara Prison, about 45 km south of here, tried to escape from their prison cells around at 3 a.m. after cutting the iron bars that were protecting the cells.

“The prison officers on duty fired at the escaping inmates, killing six and wounding four more. One prisoner of the group returned to his cell,” Major General Vajira Wijegunawardena, Sri Lanka’s prisons chief, told IANS.

The wounded prisoners were rushed to the prison hospital.

Wijegunawardena said all who had tried to escape were kept at the prison under the category of “special prisoners”. Each of them had at least four or five major criminal cases filed against them.

“Some of them had been already convicted and were facing some more criminal cases against them. Most of them were members of underworld criminal gangs, facing charges of killing, robbery and related crimes,” Wijegunawardena said.

He said that it has been “an unfortunate trend in the recent years” that prisoners have tried to escape during the Sinhala and Tamil New Year festive season, miscalculating that the security arrangements would be relaxed.

A special investigation has been ordered into the incident.

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