COLOMBO: Gunmen shot and wounded a journalist near Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo, police said yesterday, the latest in a string of attacks against media in the country.
Faraz Shauketaly, 54, a reporter with the privately owned Sunday Leader, whose editor was shot dead in 2009, was rushed to hospital for surgery following the midnight attack at his home, according to colleagues.
“Investigations are underway,” police said in a statement, without elaborating.
At least three gunmen stormed into the reporter’s house in the tourist resort area of Mount Lavinia, a suburb of Colombo, and opened fire, a colleague said.
Doctors were operating to remove a bullet from the neck of Shauketaly, who holds dual Sri Lankan and British nationality, his editor, Shakuntala Perera, said.
“We are told his condition is stable but he is still in intensive care,” she said adding Shauketaly had written a series of articles on alleged corruption in the energy sector in recent months.
“We believe the attack was due to his journalistic work,” she said, adding the reporter knew he was under threat and had feared for his safety.
A local media rights group, the Free Media Movement, said the attack underscored the dangerous working climate for journalists in Sri Lanka. “The government has created conditions to expose media personnel to this type of attack because the perpetrators know they will never be brought to justice,” the group’s secretary Sunil Jayasekera said.
He noted not a single person had been prosecuted for the killing of 17 journalists and media workers in Sri Lanka in the past decade and abductions and disappearances remained unsolved.
“We urge the authorities to investigate this shooting and bring the attackers to justice,” Jayasekera said. “If the government is serious about allowing media freedom, they must show their goodwill by ensuring a successful investigation.
“As long as a culture of impunity persists, there will be no press freedom.”