Murder, rape dog Sri Lanka tourist sector
[TamilNet, Saturday, 31 December 2011, 04:13 GMT]
Reports from the Sri Lanka media state that the southern tourist town of Tangalle near Hambantota "is now all but deserted after foreign visitors fled" following the murder of a 32-year old British tourist after a bar brawl at the resort. Prosthetic expert Khuram Shaikh, from Milnrow, Rochdale, was taking a break from his Red Cross assignment in Middle-east, when he was killed, and his Russian girlfriend was severely injured during the altercation. The alleged killer, Vidanapathirana, 24, the chairman of Tangalle village council, a close associate of Rajapaksas, surrendered after absconding for a day, according to reports. Meanwhile, BBC reported five youths were arrested attempting to rape a swedish tourist Friday in Negombo, where tourists guides have complained to Police that incidents of sexual harassment of tourists occur regularly in the resorts.
Shaikh's friend, Victoria Alexandrovna, 23, is being treated in Karapitiya hospital, Galle at the intensive care unit, reports said.
While media reports said that the Ms. Alexandrovna was sexually assaulted, Sri Lanka's deputy economic development minister, Lakshman Abeywardene, said these reports were false.
BBC also reported that journalists have received death threats following their coverage of the murder and attack on a tourist couple.
All planned events and festivities for tourists in the southern Sri Lankan resort of Tangalle has been cancelled following the killing of a holiday maker, local tourism promoters said.
“Normally, tourists move around and visit other venues in the area, but now they are afraid to go out in the night” President of the Tangalle Tourist Hoteliers Association told BBC.
Local media also reported that "[a] group of persons identifying themselves as law abiding citizens of Tangalle, have complained to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in writing that there are attempts by some elements with vested interests to undermine investigations into the killing."
The attacks on tourists are reported amidst other ominous statistics related to escalation in rape cases in Sri Lanka. Daily Mirror reported Thursday that a total of 1,637 rape cases had been reported to the police during this year,