Over 500 inmates escape from Sri Lanka drug treatment center

June 29, 2022 GMT

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — More than 500 inmates escaped from a heavily guarded drug rehabilitation center in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday after a suspicious death led to an outbreak of violence, police said.

The Kandakadu rehabilitation center, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) northeast of the capital, Colombo, mainly treats prisoners convicted of drug-related crimes. Nearly 1,000 people were undergoing rehabilitation at the center, which is guarded by military troops.

Police officers were at the center investigating the death when inmates became violent, broke the security fence and escaped, police said, adding that a search has begun for the escapees.

Illegal drug use has become a problem in Sri Lanka, where officials say about 300,000 people — around 1.5% of all Sri Lankans — are addicted to drugs.