A significant police presence has been reported in the vicinity of Mahara Prison northwest of Colombo on Monday, November 30, following reports of at least eight people killed and 55 others injured in a prison riot at the facility. The unrest started on Sunday, November 29, as prisoners protested over a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the prison. Inmates fought with guards, set fire to the prison kitchens, and took two wardens hostage overnight. The wardens have since been rescued and hospitalized. Police reported opened fire on the prisoners in an attempt to contain the riot. Prison authorities have deployed 600 guards around the prison, including 200 police commandos, as they respond to the incident. It is unclear whether authorities have regained control of the complex, with continuing reports of intermittent gunfire. Several incidents of unrest have been reported at incarceration facilities nationwide following all prisons going into lockdown last week due to COVID-19.
A heightened security presence is to be expected in the vicinity of the prison as security forces respond to the incident. An associated disruption to transportation is likely over the near term.
Those in Colombo are advised to monitor the situation, avoid the area as a precaution, and adhere to any instructions issued by local authorities.