Jaffna Additional Magistrate, Mrs.Srinithi Nanthasekaran, who visited the crime site at the Jaffna daily `Uthayan` office, ordered police protection to the `Uthayan` office, and directed the Police to investigate into the armed attack on office Tuesday night. Police said they have recovered a gun from the attack site.
Police informed the Magistrate that they have detained some persons, but no further details were provided to the Magistrate.
Five gunmen who entered the main office of the Jaffna daily `Uthayan` Tuesday night around 7:45 p.m., opened fire on editorial staff, killing two staffers, including the daily`s marketing manager and wounding two, according to initial reports. At least 40 gunshots were heard, residents said.
The Marketing Manger, Bastian George Sagayathas (Suresh), 37, and Rajaratnam Ranjith, 25, were killed.
S. Uthayakumar and N. Thayakaran, two staffers at the office were rushed to Jaffna Hospital with wounds.
Two editorial staffers, who were working at the top-floor of the office, escaped as they had managed to hide inside the office.
`The gunmen were shooting at will, everybody they found inside the office was shot. Finally, they smashed all the computers in the office,` an employee who managed to escape from the attackers told TamilNet.
Four gunmen were armed with T-56 rifles and another was firing wit a handgun, eyewitnesses said.
Uthayan office is located on Kasthuriyar Road in Jaffna town. Meanwhile the UNP yesterday issued the following statement: We are sad to hear the news of the violent attack on the `Udayan Newspaper` establishment in the Jaffna Peninsula by some unidentified gunmen killing two people and wounding several others. It is all the more saddening, for this to have happened on the day when the world is celebrating the `Freedom of the Press` and Sri Lanka being the venue of such celebrations.
We in the United National Party, who always stood firmly for the freedom of the press and rights of the journalists, wholeheartedly condemn this dastardly act, urge the government to ring the perpetrators before the law and to provide maximum security to the establishment to prevent the repetition of this type of unfortunate incidents. Whatever the political ideology held bye the `Udayan` newspaper` undoubtedly it served a very vital purpose at this crucial time of the history voicing the concerns and the issues of a section of the Tamil community, particularly in the North and East. We all acknowledge that the free flow of ideas and the freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and it is the corner stone for any democratic and civilized society. As observed by our judiciary, in one of their Judgements `The unfettered interchange of ideas from diverse and antagonistic sources, however unorthodox or controversial, however shocking or offensive or disturbing they may be to the people or any section of the people however hateful to the prevailing climate of opinion, those ideas must be protected and must not be abridged`. It is the true spirit of freedom of expression which we should preserve and protect if we are to be called a democratic country.
Therefore, any attempt to subvert such expressions by threat, intimidation or violence should be wholeheartedly condemned by all those who are committed to uphold democracy and human rights.