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Another editor attacked in Sri Lanka

[AFP, Friday, 23 January 2009 08:12 No Comment]

jour  Assailants beat a Sri Lanka newspaper editor and smashed his car as he drove to work Friday, colleagues said, in the latest of a string of violent attacks here against journalists.


Upali Tennakoon, chief editor of the privately-owned Rivira weekly, and his wife were attacked by four men on two motorcycles who blocked his car at Imbulgoda, outside the capital Colombo, a reporter on his paper said.


"They smashed the windscreen and then started attacking us," his wife Dhammika said as they were brought to the Colombo National hospital.


"I hugged him tight as they started hitting us with sticks and stabbed," she said, adding the attackers escaped.


Hospital director Hector Weerasinghe said the Tennakoons were out of danger.

The attack came two weeks after another editor, Lasantha Wickrematunga, was shot dead as he drove to his office.


Wickrematunga had been a staunch critic of the government’s war against Tamil Tiger rebels. Since his murder at least eight journalists and prominent media rights activists have fled the country, fearing they would be targeted.


The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has asked foreign diplomats in Colombo to "weigh in forcefully and immediately" with President Mahinda Rajapakse to put an end to attacks raining down on Sri Lanka’s media.


The CPJ said the brutality of the attacks in recent days was a clear indicator of how the war on the Sri Lankan media has moved far beyond the use of threats, intimidation, legal harassment and sporadic violence.


Earlier this month, attackers torched a privately owned television station that had been labelled "unpatriotic" by sections of the state media for its coverage of the island’s ethnic conflict.

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