Sri Lankan journalist wounded in shooting

January 8, 2009 (AFP) – The editor of an anti-government Sri Lankan newspaper was shot and badly wounded on Thursday as he drove to work near the capital Colombo, a colleague and a doctor said.

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse has said government troops are close to eliminating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) after a series of major victories on the battlefield.

Security forces are pushing into remaining rebel-held territory in the north after capturing Kilinochchi, the LTTE’s political capital, last week.

The Tigers have vowed to hit back in their vicious 37-year battle for a separate homeland that has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people. The shooting came two days after unidentified attackers torched a privately-owned television station that had been labelled “unpatriotic” by sections of the state media for its coverage of the war against Tamil rebels.

Lasantha Wickrematunga, editor of the Sunday Leader, was admitted to the Colombo South hospital, where a doctor described his condition as “critical.”

“He was on his way to work when he was shot,” Wickrematunga’s colleague told AFP. “We heard that he had been shot in the chest, hea