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Tamil editor abducted in Sri Lanka: family

[AFP, Thursday, 26 February 2009 08:00 No Comment]

A Tamil newspaper editor was abducted in Sri Lanka’s capital Thursday, colleagues and family members said, the latest in a string of attacks on the war-wracked island’s journalists.

 

Three armed men dressed in police uniforms grabbed N. Vidyatharan, chief editor of the Sudaroli and Uthayan newspapers, while he attended the funeral of a relative at Mount Lavinia, a suburb of the capital, a family member said.

 

"The three men in uniform tried to grab Vidyatharan. He resisted and the other mourners at the funeral started shouting, but they dragged him on the floor and took him away in a van," the relative said.

A police spokesman could not be reached for comment. However, state-run Daily News quoted police as saying that the editor had been "abducted" by persons driving a white-coloured van.

 

Vidyatharan’s newspapers have been staunchly critical of the military campaign against Tamil Tiger rebels, who are cornered in the northeast of the island.

 

There have been several armed attacks on Vidyatharan’s newspaper offices and his abduction comes seven weeks after another senior editor was shot dead by unidentified attackers in the same area.

A month ago the US embassy here warned that continuing attacks against journalists in Sri Lanka exposed the deteriorating conditions media workers face in the country.

 

According to official figures, nine journalists have been killed in the past three years, while 27 have been attacked. The government has promised investigations, but no one has been brought to justice.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has asked foreign diplomats in Colombo to "weigh in forcefully and immediately" to put an end to attacks on Sri Lanka?s media.

 

Vidyatharan’s abduction came as Sri Lanka’s military was in the final stages of a campaign to crush Tamil Tiger rebels, whose decades-long armed campaign for an independent homeland has suffered huge territorial losses.

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