Editor's home shot at

[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 June 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The home of Lasantha Wickramatunge, controversial editor of the Sunday Leader newspapers, was sprayed with bullets last night around 11:30 p.m., by an unidentified gang, said journalist sources.

The bullets used in the attack came from a T-56 assault rifle and were of the type used by the military, capable of piercing lightly armoured vehicles, said sources.

Mr. Wickramatunge had returned late last evening after a dinner and had been hardly home ten minutes before the firing occurred.

No one was injured, though the walls of his Nugegoda residence, in the suburbs of Colombo, were badly damaged by bullets.

The attackers had calmly driven up in a van, rested the T-56 on the grill of the gate and opened fire, said sources.

Mr. Wickramatunge was also attacked in 1996 while he was travelling in a vehicle with his wife.

The Sunday Leader has been instrumental in bringing to light various political scandals associated with the present Peoples Alliance regime, including those involving bribery and corruption.

The latest exposure that has caused embarrassment to the Government is that of the private expenditures of Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Posts, Telecommunication and the Media, being reimbursed from the private purse of Mr. Kamitsumo, the Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Telecom.

In a similar incident, Mr. Iqbal Athas, Consultant Editor and Defence Correspondent of the Colombo news paper, The Sunday Times, was threatened by about 15 unidentified gunmen who raided his house in Colombo on February 12.

It is beleived that the the attack came as a direct result of a series of atricles Mr. Athas had written for The Sunday Times on military corruption and irregularities.

On february 16, Pradeep Kumara Dharmaratne, a young provincial correspondent for the Lake House, who had filed a report to 'Dinamina' on January 26 about the proliferating 'kasippu' (ilicit liquor) trade was severley assaulted by the police.

A group of policemen who stormed Mr. Dharmaratne's house at midnight, assaulted him and took him away in a vehicle to the police station.

Mr. Dharmaratne said that the police had assaulted him and threatened his life if he was to write again about the 'kasippu' trade.

He was later admitted to the Hospital folowing injuries he sustained in the Police assault.

The police had then attempted to frame him by placing his finger-prints on the liquor barrels.

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