Sri Lanka’s political gun culture to be checked

Oct 13, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa said firearms kept by private ‘guards’ of politicians will be recovered in a special operation starting Thursday, in the wake of a deadly clash among rival factions of his party. “A special operation aimed at disarming them has been launched from today by the police and the special task force assisted by the military,” President Rajapaksa told a meeting of media chiefs.

Analysts said politicians of various colours had got into the habit of hiring private ‘guards’, during more than 30 years of war during two Marxist led uprisings in the South and a long running civil war in the North which ended in May 2009.

Some of the ‘guards’ were from the underworld. This has led to close links being formed between some politicians and the underworld including drug runners.

The push to recover unlicensed weapons comes after shootout between rival groups in President Rajapaksa’s party led by parliamentarian Duminda Silva and Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, a former lawmaker during recent local government elections.

Each were backing proxies to the local bodies.

Premachandra died and Silva is in hospital following the shootout.

President Rajapaksa said some poli