Freelance journalist gunned down in Sri Lanka

July 2, 2006 (AFP) – A freelance Sri Lankan journalist was gunned down near the capital Colombo on Sunday, police said, but rejected claims that the killing was linked to the ongoing Tamil separatist conflict. Sampath Lakmal, who was in his mid twenties, had worked as a freelance journalist at two Sinhalese language newspapers and a television company, and had reported on the separatist conflict.

However, a colleague said his writing could not have been the reason for his killing.

“I don’t think his work would have offended anyone,” a former co-worker said.

More than 60,000 people have been killed in the separatist insurgency launched by Tamil rebels in 1972.

Two weeks ago, Lakmal had told colleagues that he was taking up a new career as a press officer to a deputy minister. Police said an investigation was underway.