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Sri Lanka 4 July 2006

A freelance journalist lured to his death

Reporters Without Borders condemned the fourth murder of a media professional in Sri Lanka since the start of 2006 after freelance journalist Lakmal Silva, who specialised in defence questions was killed in a southern Colombo suburb.

“If the authorities want to put an end to the rumours about the implication of the security forces in the killing, they must hold a rigorous and impartial investigation,” the press freedom organisation said.“ They should also do the same in the five other recent murder cases in Sri Lanka of Subramaniyam Sugirdharajan, Relangi Sevaraja, Dharmeratnam Sivaram, Suresh Kumar and Ranjith Kumar.”

The organisation also called on the Sri Lankan government to take steps to protect the safety of the country’s journalists.

Silva was shot dead after he was lured into an ambush overnight on 1st July after he went to meet an unknown person who had contacted him by telephone. Police found his body the following morning. His family said he had not received any threats.

Silva mainly covered the conflict between the government and Tamil separatists. Some journalists believe he may have been a government informer which was why police put forward the theory he was killed by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE). Other sources said that the journalist also informed on the separatists and thought the army might have killed him after becoming aware of this.

Silva is the latest victim in a dirty war in which more than 700 people have been killed since April 2006, despite a ceasefire signed a few years ago. Many journalists have become victims of this wave of bloodshed. Reporters Without Borders voiced its fears on the subject, in June 2006, after pro-government media made threats against five Sri Lankan journalists who had met a Tamil Tiger leader.

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