SLA commandos arrested in botched heist
[TamilNet, Sunday, 26 March 2000, 17:28 GMT]
Two Special Forces commandos of the Sri Lanka army who took part in a botched robbery of a rural bank south of Colombo were arrested by the Police this afternoon. Police sources in Colombo said that this is the first instance in which elite special forces commandos in active service have been taken into custody for gang robbery.
The two commandos had been part of a well armed gang that had forced its way into the bank in Pothupitiya in the Kalutara district this afternoon. Police had rushed to the spot on a tip off about the robbery.
The two SLA commandos had fired at the Police party as the gang attempted to escape from the bank. The driver of the gang's getaway vehicle was killed when Police returned fire.
A senior Police officer in Kalutara said that investigations are under to determine how the special forces commandos had taken part in the robbery with their weapons and could have taken time off from their units to be in Kalutara for the heist. It is a worrisome development said another officer at the Police Headquarters in Colombo.
The widespread involvement of SLA deserters in extortion, robbery, murder and rape was underscored by Sri Lanka's Deputy Minister for Justice Prof.G.L Pieris last week at a briefing to apprise the press of his government's intention to strenghten penal law to contain the rising crime rate.
The Sri Lankan army spends approximately 375,000 rupees to train each commando of its special forces. The elite unit is part of the army's 53 division and is also trained by US special forces.