Pro-rebel Tamil editor abducted, shot dead

Associated Press

Talangama, April 29:

A top Tamil journalist whose articles favoured the mainstream Tamil Tiger rebels over a breakaway faction was fatally shot hours after being seized by attackers at a restaurant in the capital, police and colleagues said today. Dharmeratnam Sivaram, 46, a board member of the pro-rebel TamilNet Web site and a columnist for Sri Lanka’s English newspaper the Daily Mirror, was abducted by four unidentified men at the restaurant in Colombo yesterday

and taken away in a jeep, witnesses said. His body was found today with gunshot wounds to the head in a shrub near a lake, police officer Ashoka Gunasekara said. A colleague and family members confirmed the identity of the body, which was gagged with a red-and-white napkin. No one claimed responsibility for the killing.

“We got an anonymous call saying a body was lying by the lake,” said HA Somaratne, a police officer at the scene. A spent cartridge from a 9 mm pistol was found near Sivaram’s body in Talangama, about 10 kilometres outside Colombo. In a statement, the government condemned the killing and ordered an investigation, vowing to capture the perpetrators.

Sivaram was Sri Lanka’s best known Tamil Internet journalist and had been attacked and threatened in the past. In December, 2001, he was stabbed and beaten by a group of men in the city of Batticaloa. His TamilNet Web site became popular for its reporting on the Sri Lankan civil war and the continuing process to find a permanent solution since a 2002 ceasefire halted the fighting.