India monitors Sri Lankan prison riot

India Saturday said it is "closely monitoring" the situation arising out of the violence at Welikada prison in Sri Lanka, where 39 Indians are lodged.

The toll in the prison riot has risen to 27 after prisoners and military overnight exchanged gunfire.

"India's high commission in Sri Lanka has been closely monitoring the evolving situation in the Welikada prison since last evening," India's Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said here.

"This morning, (Indian) High Commissioner Ashok Kantha has been in touch with (Sri Lankan) Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Foreign Secretary Amunugama. He was assured that the situation is under control and all Indian prisoners are safe," Akbaruddin said.

"Officials of the Indian high commission in Colombo have been in touch with prison officials and are pressing for early consular access," he added.

Of the 39 Indian prisoners, five are undertrials brought from Jaffna in the northeastern part of the island nation, and the rest 34 are undergoing their sentence.

There are nearly 4,000 inmates in the prison.

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