Saturday, May 9, 2009



By Kurulu Kariyakarawana

At least one person was killed and nine injured when an armed gang opened fire at crowds who were coming after Friday prayers from the Maligawatte Jumma Mosque, police said.

They said according to initial investigations it appeared to be linked to rivalry among underworld gangs in the area.

An armed gang of about six had stormed the Mosque on Jumma Masjid Road in Maligawatte around 1.30 pm and started searching for a person or group who were believed to have been engaged in routine Friday prayers.

The gang had reportedly come in a vehicle while three of them had been armed with rifles similar to T-56 weapons. They had entered the Mosque while the prayers were almost coming to an end.

They had started looking for somebody and had pacified the frightened people saying they would not be harmed, an eyewitness said.

Meanwhile the remaining members of the group who were outside the Mosque had entered into a small passage leading to a row of houses and started firing at a person.

All the armed men had then started firing at crowds gathered outside the Mosque after prayers and had fled the scene.

Police Spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara told the Daily Mirror that the injured were rushed to the National Hospital and one of them had reportedly died on admission.

The victim had been identified as 30-year-old M Sadal – a butcher believed to be living in the Jumma Masjid Road area.

Unconfirmed eyewitness accounts revealed that one of the armed intruders was also injured in crossfire when another group had retaliated.

A large number of spent cartridges believed to be of T-56 rifles were found scattered along the road.

Muslim leaders condemn attack

By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera

Muslim political leaders roundly condemned yesterday’s Maligawatte shooting incident which killed one person and injured nine, and called for the government to arrest the dangerous trend.

SLMC General Secretary MP Hasan Ali said the sanctity of places of religious worship should be preserved, and the government should take steps in this regard. Otherwise, Mr. Ali said this would lead to an unpleasant and complicated situation in the future.

“In the run up to the Western Provincial Council election, there were many underworld attacks in the Maligawatte area. We cannot link this incident to the same underworld groups. At the same time, we cannot rule out such connections either,” he said.

UNP front liner Azath Sally said yesterday’s shooting incident had created a dangerous trend. “Allowing underworld gangs to carry automatic weapons makes the security in Colombo city bleak,” he said.

He said in the wake of these incidents it has become unsafe for Muslims even to go to the mosques in the Colombo City.

He said it was too early to establish any political link to the incident.

Eastern Provincial Council Health Minister M.L.A.M Hizbullah said no one could condone these attacks near a place of religious worship, and the responsibility lies squarely with the government to bring the perpetrators to book

Mr. Hizbullah said this incident bears the hallmark of an underworld conspiracy.

“We are on the verge of finishing off LTTE terrorism. At this hour, we should not allow the underworld to disrupt the country’s normalcy,” he said.

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