COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — One prisoner was killed and four others wounded Saturday when guards opened fire after tensions flared during a protest by prisoners in a facility in north-central Sri Lanka, police said.
Tensions erupted when prison guards tried to control the protest in Anuradhapura prison, police said in a statement. In the commotion, some attempted to flee the facility, and guards opened fire to prevent them from escaping, the statement said.
Five prisoners were wounded and taken to a hospital, where one of them died, the statement added.
Police said no inmates escaped and security at the prison has been strengthened by deploying additional police teams, including commandos.
Senaka Perera, president of the Committee for Protecting Rights of Prisoners, or CPRP, said the prisoners were protesting congested conditions amid coronavirus fears.
He said prisoners were also protesting the poor quality of meals after the government banned visitors for two weeks to prevent the spreading of the virus inside prisons. Visitors often bring home-cooked food when they visit inmates.
Sri Lanka's prisons are highly congested, sometimes housing 5,000 prisoners in a facility capable of holding 800, according to CPRP.
The Indian Ocean island nation has confirmed 77 coronavirus cases.
Anuradhapura prison is located 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka's capital.