As many as 25 prison inmates and four jail officials in clashes between guards and rioting inmates at a prison here.

The stand-off began after prisoners set fire to a kitchen and an administrative building at Magazine jail. Prison guards had reportedly opened fire to quell the rioting.

Jail officials were on an over-drive to control illegal entry of some banned substances into the prison. The prisoners had demanded that they be allowed food from their families.

As soon as the rioting began there were apprehensions that the prisoners, who are majority Sinhalese, would attack the 180 suspected Tamil Tigers in the prison. Their relatives had called up media organisations and, anyone who would listen, to make sure that the inmates were out of harm's way. A local news agency, lankapuvath, said that the LTTE prisoners were shifted from the prison.

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