By Shamindra Ferdinando
IGP Pujith Jayasundera, yesterday, flew to Batticaloa, where a major police investigation is underway into the killing of two police personnel in Vavunativu, a one-time LTTE stronghold.
Jayasundera was accompanied by Senior DIG in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Immediately after the killings were brought to the notice of the government, police headquarters authorised the deployment of the elite Special Task Force (STF) in support of the police.
Police spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekera told The Island that initial reports indicated the incident had taken place between 1 am and 6 am on Friday.
Sources said that the police found their bodies with hands tied behind their backs and shot through their heads at close range. They were identified as 35-year-old father of one Walpita Gamage Niroshan Indika Prasanna, a resident of Udugama, Galle and 29-year-old Ganeshanwaran Dinesh, a resident Periyanilawane, Kalmunai. They were attached to Vavunativu police.
A senior administrative official told The Island that ex-LTTE combatants were believed to have carried out the attack. Responding to another query, the official said President Maithripala Sirisena had been briefed on the incident-the first deliberate post-war attack directed at the police. President Sirisena, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of armed forces brought law and order portfolio under his purview following Oct 26 sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. UNPer Ranjith Madduma Bandara held the law and order portfolio at the time of the change of government.
SP Gunasekera, who was at the Ratmalana airport with high level police team scheduled to leave for Batticaloa said that the attackers had removed revolvers issued to the policemen.
An authoritative official told The Island that several persons had been taken into custody in connection with the incident. “We have no doubt rehabilitated ex-LTTE cadres carried out the attack, used some sharp objects to cause injuries on bodies before fleeing the area.”
According to him, the attackers had retaliated against the police obstructing LTTE celebrations in Vavunativu and adjoining areas organised to mark LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s birthday.
Military spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu told The Island that the incident had taken place in an area coming under the purview of 23.1 Division deployed in the East.
Eastern Governor Rohitha Bogollagama yesterday told The Island that the attackers had claimed the lives of two law enforcement officers––a Sinhalese from Galle and a Tamil from Kalmunai. Wartime Foreign Minister Bogollagama urged the government to take tangible measures to arrest those involved in the attack and whatever steps necessary to restore confidence among the people not only in the Eastern Province but the entire country. Bogollagama warned of dire consequences unless the perpetrators were expeditiously brought before court.
Bogollagama said that no one should seek political mileage out of the unfortunate incident and everyone should extend fullest support to law enforcement authorities.
Responding to a query, Bogollagama said that he had been informed of the possibility of ex-LTTE cadres carrying out yesterday’s attack.
At the conclusion of the war, the previous Rajapaksa government released over 11,000 rehabilitated LTTE cadres. There hadn’t been a single deliberate attack on law enforcement officers though during the previous Rajapaksa government the military killed three hardcore terrorists.
Military officials alleged that recent LTTE celebrations especially in the Northern Province triggered fears of attempts to encourage terrorism. They pointed out that various interested parties got some foreigners to participate in this year’s celebrations.