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Journalists attacked in Colombo

Upali Tennakoon, editor of a weekly newspaper Rivira, and his wife were on way to office on Friday morning when four motor cycle-borne waylaid the couple and attacked them with knives, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2009 09:12 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Attacks on journalists continued in Sri Lanka with unidentified assailants attacking a newspaper editor and his wife on Friday morning.

Upali Tennakoon, editor of a weekly newspaper, Rivira, and his wife were on way to office on Friday morning when four motor cycle-borne waylaid the couple and attacked them with knives.

Dr Prasad Ariyawansa, a doctor at the government-run Colombo National Hospital, told news agencies that both Tennakoon and his wife were treated for lacerations on their hands and foreheads. Both were expected to recover from their injuries.

The attack comes two weeks after Lasantha Wickrematunge, editor of Sunday Leader newspaper, was shot dead on way to work. The murder of the editor, who was critical of the government on certain issues, triggered strong condemnation from the world over. Many said the future of free opinion in Sri Lanka was being jeopardised.

Wickrematunga's murder came barely two days after a private television station was attacked by heavily armed gunmen. Property and equipment worth lakhs were destroyed.

On Thursday, the chief government whip Dinesh Gunawardena told Parliament that nine journalists have been killed and 27 assaulted in the country since 2006.

He added that the number of journalists abducted were five in the same period.

Following the attack on Tennakoon and his wife, President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructed the Inspector General of Police to appoint a special police team to investigate into the cases of attacks against the media.

IN a related development, rights body, Human Rights Watch has urged the Rajapaksa administration to drop charges against JS Tissainayagam, a Tamil journalist who was arrested in March and indicted five months later under an anti-terrorism law.

"Tissainayagam's arrest was politically motivated and his detention has involved a litany of due process violations," said Brad Adams, the New York-based group's Asia director, agencies reported.