1 Dead in Sri Lanka Newspaper Blast

By: SHIMALI SENANAYAKE, Associated Press Writer

Attackers on a bicycle hurled grenades at a Tamil-language newspaper office in the capital of Colombo, killing a security guard, police said Monday.

The attack on the Sudar Oli newspaper, allegedly linked to the country’s Tamil Tiger rebels, came eight days after two bombs were thrown at another office of the newspaper in Colombo. No one was injured since the bombs did not explode.

A security guard was killed in Monday’s attack, said K. Rathnasingham, editor of the newspaper. Two others, including a proofreader, were injured in the evening explosion and taken to the hospital.

Staff members said the attackers had arrived on a bicycle — with one man pedaling and the other sitting on a rear seat and hurling two grenades. Rathnasingham said four vehicles were damaged and windows were blown out.

He said it was the third attack by those trying to silence the newspaper.

“Even if just one person remains, we will continue the newspaper,” he said, “They will not silence us.”

Last week, a Sudar Oli cameraman was assaulted and arrested while covering a Marxist party protest in the capital. The protesters accused him of being a Tamil rebel. He was handed over to the police and later released.

The Marxists denied that their supporters were responsible for the attack.

Several journalists have been killed in Sri Lanka in the past few years, but no one has been convicted in the killings.

Attacks on ethnic Tamil journalists have increased since a split last year within the Tamil Tiger rebel group. The breakaway faction accuses most news organizations of favoring the mainstream faction.

On Aug. 12, Relangi Selvaraja, a popular Tamil broadcaster, was fatally shot along with her husband at a shop they ran in Colombo. They reportedly were supporters of a Tamil political party that opposes the rebels.

Iyathurai G. Nadesan, who worked for the independent Virakesari Tamil newspaper, was fatally shot last year in the eastern town of Batticaloa as he rode on a motorbike to his office.

This year, Dharmeratnam Sivaram, who ran the pro-rebel TamiNet Web site, was abducted on April 28, and his body was found the next day in Colombo.

The Tamil Tigers began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland for minority ethnic Tamils in the country’s north and east, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese. The conflict killed nearly 65,000 people before a cease-fire signed in 2002.

Peace talks have been stalled since 2003 over rebel demands for wide autonomy.

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