India and the United States on Friday condemned the broad daylight killing of the Chief Editor of a Sri Lankan newspaper in Colombo and asked the government of the island nation to probe the matter thoroughly
. "We are deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the demise of the well-regarded Editor of Leader group of Publications of Sri Lanka, Lasantha Wickramatunga, following an armed attack in Colombo," an Indian High Commission release said in Colombo. "This deplorable incident comes in the wake of the series of attacks on and intimidation of media organisations and personalities in Sri Lanka including the recent bombing of the studios of Maharaja TV," the release said. "We urge the government of Sri Lanka to investigate these attacks fully and bring the perpetrators of these reprehensible attacks to justice," the release added.
Emphasising the importance of free media for building a democratic nation, the Indian High Commission in Colombo said, "We hold media freedom as an essential element of any democracy and such attacks are detrimental to the idea of democratic freedom in Sri Lanka."
Meanwhile, a statement issued on Thursday by the US embassy in Colombo said the "murder of Lasantha Wicrematunga is a shocking blow to independent media in Sri Lanka". "The United States strongly condemns the murder today of the Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge and the January 5th attack on Sirasa TV. These deplorable acts mark the latest in a series of attempts to quell independent voices in Sri Lanka," the US embassy here said.
"The United States is deeply concerned that such attacks undermine efforts to build a united and democratic Sri Lanka where the rights of all people are protected," it said. "We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to investigate these attacks expeditiously, bring the perpetrators to justice, and take all possible measures to protect freedom of expression for members of the press," the US embassy statement said.
Lasantha Wickramatunga, the Chief Editor of the Sunday Leader, a Sri Lankan newspaper known for its strong views against government was shot dead by two unidentified motorcycle-borne gunmen yesterday, the second attack on the private media in last four days.