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Gunmen attack prison bus to leave 5 inmates, two guards dead

Sri Lanka police believe that the violence occurred due to enmity between two underworld gangs. (Representative image) (Image courtesy: Flickr) Photograph: (Others)

AFP Colombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka Feb 27, 2017, 09.58 AM (IST)

Gunmen launched an audacious daytime attack on a prison bus outside Colombo Monday, leaving five prisoners and two armed guards dead.

The prisoners were being driven to a court when the worst gang-related attack in decades rocked the island nation.

The unidentified gunmen sprayed bullets on the bus as it was passing through a wooded area, with the police suspecting the violence to be a case of inter-gang rivalry.

"It is believed that the shooting was a result of enmity between two underworld gangs," police said in a statement.

"Investigations are under way."

Security for underworld suspects had been tightened following a similar shooting on a prison bus that seriously wounded another suspected gang leader in the capital in March last year.

Six people were killed in two separate incidents on that day, but police said Monday's bus ambush was the deadliest gang-related attack in Sri Lanka in living memory.

Automatic weapons are easily available eight years after the end of the country's 37-year ethnic war.

Attempts to crack down on possession of illegal firearms have been largely ineffective.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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