Tribute

AFP.com/Correspondent) Mel Gunasekera became AFP’s first full-time woman correspondent in Colombo when she joined in January 2007. She had covered Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist war and its bloody finale in 2009 and was widely respected across the country. On February 2, she was murdered at her Colombo home after confronting a burglar. By Amal Jayasinghe

When a caller asked me if something terrible had happened to my friend Mel, my response was “No, it can’t be.” If it had, she would have told me. But within minutes, I had the most devastating news in my 32 years as a reporter.

My former AFP colleague Mel Gunasekera, 40, had been murdered at her Colombo home after confronting a burglar whom she had apparently recognised as a painter her family had employed. She was stabbed to death at home on February 2, 2014 as her parents and only brother Dayan were at church.

Dayan said I was one of two people he wanted to immediately inform after finding his sister in a pool of blood, but somehow he could not locate the telephone numbers and it was up to another relative to convey the tragic news.

Mel and I covered Sri Lanka’s Tamil separatist war and its bloody finale in 2009, the same year a local newspaper editor was gunned down near Colombo.

That assassination of Sunday Leader Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga stunned us