The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) charged yesterday that Friday’s attack on a party meeting in the Hambantota village of Hediwatte was a direct attempt by the Government to scare the party from engaging in political activity in the district.
Ten men on motorcycles, some carrying automatic rifles, attacked the JVP meeting, killing two and injuring four, all active members of the party JVP frontliner Vijitha Herath said that after opening fire into the air, the gunmen fired into a group who were being addressed by Western Provincial Council member Nalinda Jayatissa.
He said the participants at the meeting had been able to identify some of the attackers, including the man who led the attack and had named him in the complaint made to the Police. According to eyewitnesses, the gunmen had terrorised the JVPers for about 20 minutes, beating them and causing damage to the tent put up outside a house, a small lorry, three three-wheelers and four motorcycles.
A disabled soldier attending the meeting was told to crawl out of the location for safety, while the others ran away.
Last morning a CID team led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police was sent from Colombo for investigations while five more police teams are also assisting. Policemen from 20 more stations in the district and the army also came to the scene of the attack.
Southern Province Senior DIG Lalith Jayasinghe and Hambantota DIG U.S.R. Wijeratne declined to comment on the attack. Police spokesman Ajith Rohana said that investigations were being carried out to ascertain whether a particular person was the target, whether it was a dispute between the parties or it was due a dispute with the family who had given out the house for the meeting.
He said that if the JVP had named persons reported to be involved in the attack they would also be investigated. The victims in the attack were identified as Edirimannage Malani, 51 and Nimantha Heshan, 18.
The JVP yesterday called the government to expedite the investigations as it had been able to name persons responsible for the attack. A spokesman said that before the investigations were over the government had said that the attack was due to an internal dispute in the party.
By Damith Wickremasekara