Reporters Without Borders voiced shock and dismay at the death of Sirasa TV reporter Mohamed Rashmi, who was killed today in a suicide bombing blamed on separatist Tamil Tiger rebels against former General Janaka Perera that left at least 27 dead and more than 80 injured.
The bomber blew himself up during the inauguration of new premises of the leading opposition United National Party (UNP) in Anuradhapura, central Sri Lanka, killing the general and several other regional party officials.
Mohamed Rashmi, a provincial correspondent, was caught up in the attack while covering the event for the privately-owned television station. One of his colleagues told Reporters Without Borders that Mohamed Rashmi had been working for the channel since 2001 after gaining a diploma in video journalism.
"It is a despicable practice to mount suicide attacks during public events such as this," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "Those who carried it out and the instigators have no respect whatsoever for the lives of civilians, including journalists, who are there alongside targeted figures, just to do their job."
"Scores of journalists have been killed by these suicide bombers - these merchants of death - in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and now in Sri Lanka", it added.
Five Sri Lankan journalists’ organisations put out a joint statement condemning the attack as a "crime against humanity".
The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) rarely admits responsibility for suicide attacks, but they have been carrying out such bombings against political and military figures since the 1980s.