Colombo: In an attempt to free a certain gangster at least seven people are reportedly killed when unidentified gunmen in Sri Lanka opened fire on a prison bus outside Colombo.

Police said five inmates and two guards died in the attack near the town of Kalutara. Nine others are in hospital.

The bus was transporting a prominent underworld suspect and other prisoners to court.

Police say the shooting resulted from a feud between two gangs. The gunmen escaped after spraying the bus with bullets.

There have been a number of shootings targeting prison buses.

Another suspected gang leader was injured in a prison bus shooting in the capital last March.