Page last updated at 22:51 GMT, Monday, 1 June 2009 23:51 UK

Sri Lankan journalist assaulted

Poddala Jayantha lies on a stretcher at a hospital in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 1/6/09
Poddala Jayantha's injuries are not life-threatening, doctors say

A Sri Lankan journalist is in hospital after being abducted and beaten by unidentified attackers.

Poddala Jayantha received head and leg injuries in the attack near his home in the Colombo suburb of Nugegoda.

Mr Jayantha campaigns for media freedom and is seen by government supporters as an opponent of the authorities.

Critics in Sri Lanka's local media have come under extreme pressure in the past few years. Several independent journalists have been killed.

Mr Jayantha, the general secretary of the Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association, was kidnapped on Monday while he was walking near his home on the outskirts of the capital.

His colleagues say a group of men bundled him into a white van and severely beat him up.

They also cut his beard and hair before leaving the injured journalist in a suburban area, the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan reports.

Doctors at Colombo National Hospital said his injuries were not life threatening.

Police say no arrests have been made so far.

Mounting criticism

BBC correspondents say Poddala Jayantha was named by government politicians as an anti-government campaigner who had been instrumental in tarnishing the name of the government.

As a result of earlier threats and intimidation - which included an armed group trying to kidnap him from his residence - Mr Jayantha spent a brief period abroad, returning to Sri Lanka only a few weeks ago.

The government is facing mounting criticism from press freedom groups for what they say is a failure to protect journalists from attacks and for the lack of prosecutions against those who do so, our correspondent says.

Earlier this year, the government told parliament that nine journalists had been killed and more than 25 assaulted since the beginning of 2006.

Amnesty International says at least 20 journalists have fled the country because of death threats.

Media rights groups say Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

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