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Sri Lanka 10 August 2007

A second young journalist gunned down in Jaffna

Reporters Without Borders is outraged to learn that a second young journalist has been killed in the northern city of Jaffna in the space of two days and calls on the authorities to conduct a serious investigation to identify those responsible.

Thanikasalam Sarirooban, a trainee journalist with the Daily Mirror, was shot dead by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he was returning home on 2 August, a day after journalism student Sahathevan Nilakshan was gunned down inside his home. In each case, the motive is unknown.

2.08 - Student magazine editor gunned down at his home in Jaffna

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage at the murder today of Sahathevan Nilakshan, a journalism student and editor of a publication linked to a student union. He was shot dead by gunmen who entered his home near Jaffna early this morning before the end of a nighttime curfew.

"This latest shooting of a young journalist after the murder of a reporter with the daily Uthayan in April confirms that the Jaffna region is one of the world’s most dangerous places for the media," the press freedom organisation said. "The fact that this morning’s murder took place during the curfew again raises questions about the possible complicity of the security forces. We call for an investigation and an exemplary punishment for those found responsible."

Aged 22, Sahathevan was killed by two men who arrived on a motorcycle at his home in Kokuvil, 3 km from Jaffna, walked inside and shot him several time. He died a few hours later in a Jaffna hospital.

Sahathevan studied at the Media Resource Training Centre (MRTC) in Jaffna, which is supported by UNESCO and Denmark. He was one of the editors of Chaa’laram, a magazine linked to the Federation of Jaffna District Students that is known for supporting Tamil nationalism.

The Free Media Movement, a Sri Lankan NGO, said Sahathevan has just attended a seminar in Colombo in which MRTC students had talked about the situation of journalists in Jaffna. The Tamilnet website, which covers Tamil affairs, said Sahathevan had played an active role in events marking the second anniversary of Tamilnet editor Dharmeratnam Sivaram’s murder.

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