Sri Lankan police arrest UN aid worker for carrying pistol

April 30, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka Wednesday arrested a local staff member attached to a United Nation organisation for carrying a pistol with him, the defence ministry said. Thiagaraja Prabhakaran, working with the World Food Programme office in the northern district of Kilinochchi, was held while he was being searched at a roadblock in northern Vavuniya, a statement said.

The suspect had confessed to carrying the small weapon for someone else in the eastern district of Batticaloa, in return for cash, it added.

The UN said in a statement that the aid worker was travelling in a private vehicle outside his working hours at the time of his arrest.

“The matter is currently under police investigation while the UN is fully co-operating with the authorities,” the UN said in a release.

Government officials frequently accuse international aid groups of pro-rebel leanings.

Last year, the foreign ministry asked the United Nations Children’s Fund to withdraw some of its foreign staff for having taken part in a peaceful demonstration against the killing of local Red Cross workers.

UN officials have said that Sri Lanka is among the most dangerous places for