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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 December 2007, 11:46 GMT
Commandos free Sri Lanka minister
Mervin Silva (R) leaves covered in paint
Red paint made Mr Silva (R)'s minor head wound look serious
Sri Lankan commandos have rescued a government minister from a television station where he was being held hostage after he apparently tried to storm it.

Journalists locked up Labour Minister Mervyn Silva after one of his aides allegedly assaulted a news director.

Furious journalists refused to let the minister leave until he had apologised.

Mr Silva was splattered with red paint. He also needed treatment for a minor head wound apparently caused by a fall as he was escorted from the building.

Mr Silva had gone to the state-run Rupavahini television to complain that it had not covered a speech he gave on Wednesday marking the re-opening of a bridge destroyed by the 2004 tsunami.

If my action is considered as a wrong act, I would like to apologise to the employees
Mervin Silva
Sri Lanka labour minister

"A henchman of the minister forcefully pulled the news director and all employees are protesting demanding an apology," Rupavahini's director-general said.

The news director's shirt was ripped open, reports said.

In a statement interrupting regular scheduling the TV said the minister was being held in an office by the staff - and pictures showed Mr Silva in a small room flanked by police.

Dozens of staff could be seen protesting in the corridors, refusing to let him leave pending an apology.

Commandos and police with tear-gas were deployed around the television station as the stand-off continued.

"If my action is considered as a wrong act, I would like to apologise to the employees," the minister said, in front of a battery of cameras.

Journalists jeered as the security forces led him out of the building.

The Sri Lankan media minister, Lakshma Yapa, criticised Mr Silva's storming of the station, calling it "unfortunate".

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09 Jan 07 |  South Asia

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