Languages
Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Sri Lanka police investigate attack on BBC reporter

Thakshila Dilrukshi Jayasena
Ms Jayasena was the first reporter to be attacked in the campaign

A BBC reporter is in hospital in Sri Lanka after being attacked following clashes between rival political groups.

Thakshila Dilrukshi Jayasena received minor injuries and her recording equipment was stolen. Police say they are investigating who attacked her.

She had been covering clashes between thousands of government and opposition supporters in the town of Polonnaruwa.

Election monitors say the campaign for the 26 January presidential vote has become "disturbingly violent".

On Tuesday a supporter of the former army chief Gen Sarath Fonseka, the main opposition candidate, was shot dead in the south of the island.

Tear gas

The violence in Polonnaruwa left several people injured.

Police used tear gas to disperse thousands of supporters of President Mahinda Rajapaksa or his main rival, Gen Fonseka.

Ms Jayasena was assaulted as she was leaving the scene of the violence to file her report.

Her audio recorders, digital camera, microphone and jewellery were taken by the assailants, police say.

Ms Jayasena has reported for the BBC Sinhala service for several years from Polonnaruwa, which borders the former eastern war zone, and has worked for many other media outlets in Sri Lanka.

It is the first reported violence against journalists in the run-up to the elections. Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media organisations to work in.

'Violations'

Amid the violence, monitoring groups say the camps of both President Rajapaksa and Gen Fonseka are misusing state resources.

"Each and every day election violence is rising and election law violations are on the increase continuously," Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, from the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections, told the BBC.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says the monitors place much greater blame on the president's side which has far more resources at its disposal.

They say that ambassadors posted abroad have returned to campaign for the president; that soldiers have been putting up posters in his support; and private phone companies have sent propaganda text messages from the president on orders from the telecoms regulatory body.

The groups also said they were concerned that displaced Tamil civilians who have recently returned to their homes in the north will not be able to vote.

The BBC tried to contact several government ministers for comment but was unable to get a response.



Print Sponsor


RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific