Massive manhunt for killer snipers
Government yesterday deployed over a thousand policemen and promulgated Section 5 of the Public Security Ordinance and introduced emergency regulations to empower special squads to hunt for, arrest and detain in the search for the assassins of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar on Friday night.

The owner-occupant of the residence from which the assassins had shot Mr. Kadirgamar, Lakshman Thalayasingham, a 58-year-old former cricket captain of Royal College was taken in for questioning by the Police.

The residence is situated down Bullers Cresent, Colombo 7 and is opposite Mr. Kadirgamar's private residence at Bullers Lane. The owner lives with his 42-year-old wife who is partially paralysed after suffering a stroke.
According to investigators, the owner is denying knowledge of the fact that the assassins, believed to be numbering at least three men, were occupying the hitherto unoccupied upstairs of that house.

The owner of the residence is the son of a former Police officer. The assassins are reported to have spent some time, maybe weeks, working out the logistics of bringing in arms to the residence. Detectives are trying to ascertain whether the owners were aware of their plans, or not.

Once upstairs, they have removed three bars of a window and set up the long-range sniper gun on a tripod, covered by a piece of cardboard so that only the barrel of the gun protrudes slightly out of the window.

Used chocolates, biscuits and cheese packets with water, soda bottles and a pair of shoes were found in the room used by the assassins. There was evidence that the assassins had used 'sili sili' shopping bags to dump their excreta and urine in a bid not to use the toilets and give away the fact of their occupancy either to the owners downstairs, or Mr. Kadirgamar's guards across the road.

Police Chief Chandra Fernando accused the LTTE of carrying out the attack claiming that the type of telescopic gun used for the killing, a grenade launcher and unused grenades found later abandoned were indications that the Tigers were responsible for the attack. Several finger-prints have also been traced from the upstairs of the Thalaiyasingham residence.

IGP Fernando made the charge after visiting the scene of the crime with armed services commanders while the security forces cordoned off the entire area around Mr. Kadirgamar’s private residence.

As part of the probe, extensive cordon-and-search operations were conducted in the Wellawatte and Bambalapitiya areas yesterday with scores of houses and vehicles being closely checked by armed troops and police. IGP Fernando speaking at the Government news conference said that local and foreign intelligence in the past five years had indicated that Mr. Kadirgamar was high on the LTTE hit list.

He said the security concern grew further after Police arrested two LTTE suspects ten days ago while they were video-taping the area around his Bullers Lane private residence. There was evidence that the assassins had carried out surveillance.

“After the men were arrested, I personally told Mr. Kadirgarmar at last week’s Security Council meeting not to use his private residence at Bullers Lane anymore,” the IGP said. However the Minister’s position was that he did not want to inconvenience his neighbours, most of whom he knew well and did not want their houses searched and the people harassed.

The Minister had instead suggested the IGP discuss with the Swedish Ambassador who lives down the same lane about the security threat. The IGP had done so on Thursday, the day before the shooting.

A request for additional security to bolster the four-men MSD security of the minister was approved on Friday. The men were to be sent next week.
Police are seeking assistance of the public in the investigations and ask them to call police on 119, 155 or 118 if any suspicious person is seen in their neighbourhood.

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