South Asia

Sri Lanka TV station firebombed

Siyatha newsroom after attack
Image caption The fire destroyed much of the broadcasting equipment

An armed gang has attacked a private TV and radio station in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, with firebombs.

Two people were injured in the attack on the independent station, Siyatha.

Siyatha's owner left the country some months ago after reports emerged that he had also funded the opposition presidential candidate, Sarath Fonseka.

The government temporarily prevented Siyatha from covering official events and withdrew advertising from its newspaper, which has now closed down.

However, its broadcasts have not been critical of the government.

Witnesses told the BBC that about 12 masked men, most of them armed, stormed Siyatha's premises in the city centre and went on a rampage early on Friday.

They threw petrol-bombs and destroyed much of the broadcasting equipment, forcing staff to kneel at gunpoint and assaulting two of them.

The BBC's Charles Haviland in Colombo says the attack was reminiscent of an earlier firebombing of another TV station 18 months ago.

A US-based journalists' rights organisation ranks Sri Lanka as the fourth-worst country for impunity in attacks on journalists.

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