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13 inmates killed in Sri Lanka prison clashes

Sri Lankan inmates display guns throw stones shout slogans from roprisColombo Sri LankFriday Nov. 9 2012. Sri Lankan security forces

Sri Lankan inmates display guns, throw stones and shout slogans from a roof of a prison in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. Sri Lankan security forces engaged in a gunbattle Friday night with rioting prisoners who appeared to have briefly taken control of at least part of a prison in Colombo. Officials said at least 13 people were wounded in the violence with several fatalities. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — At least 13 inmates of a Sri Lankan prison were killed in a shootout Friday with security forces and 32 were wounded, a doctor said, as rioting prisoners appeared to take control of at least part of the facility in the country’s capital.

Police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said the fighting began when police commandos went to Welikada prison in the capital, Colombo, to conduct a search and were attacked by inmates hurling stones. He declined to provide more information. Officials often conduct raids for narcotics and communication devices.

An Associated Press photographer saw prisoners waving rifles atop the roof Friday night.

Other prisoners piled into a three-wheeled vehicle and began driving toward a main city road before security forces outside the prison opened fire. The vehicle stopped, and three unmoving bodies could be seen.

Dozens of security officers then entered the prison, and volleys of gunfire rang out.

Prisoners could be heard screaming, “Stop shooting!”

Army troops later were called in to help control the situation.

Dr. Prasad Kariyawasam said 11 bodies of inmates and 21 wounded inmates were brought to Colombo National Hospital in Sri Lanka’s capital. He said two of the injured died at the hospital. He did not immediately comment on the condition of the others.

Eleven police officers, a prison guard and a passerby were also being treated at the hospital for injuries, the doctor said.

Prison chief P.W. Kodippili said inmates had broken into the prison’s two armories and took the weapons stored there. The inmates opened fire at police commandos, who shot back, Kodippili told a local television channel Friday night.

Kodippili said prison officials were trying to get the weapons back from the inmates and had and so far collected four.

“We don’t know how many weapons they possess,” he said. He added that prison officials had taken control over most of the the prison but declined to say how long it would take to regain full control.

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Gemunu Amarasinghe of the Associated Press contributed to this report.



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