Journalist’s shooting in Sri Lanka raises alarm

New York, October 31, 2007—The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by an attack on Sri Lankan online editor Kumudu Champika Jayawardana, who was shot as he was driving home from work in a Colombo suburb shortly before midnight Wednesday. Sri Lankan media reports said Jayawardana, editor of the news Web site Ethalaya, was admitted to Colombo General Hospital where he underwent surgery today.

The local press group Free Media Movement (FMM) said the shooting occurred in Rajagiriya, a town southwest of Colombo. Two men in shorts waved at the journalist to stop his motorcycle, shooting him twice in the back as he rode past, FMM reported. His condition today was not critical, colleagues told FMM. The motive was not immediately clear. Etalaya is a Sinhalese-language general news site.

“Attacks like this highlight the general insecurity facing journalists in Sri Lanka,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “The government must take seriously its obligation to provide a secure environment for journalists—and that means apprehending and prosecuting those responsible for this cowardly attack.”

Two Sri Lanka journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work this year and numerous other attacks have been reported.