Gang wanted for Vesak day slaughter held

by Norman Palihawadana and Kalinga Weerakkody

Police investigating the Vesak day slaughter at Nawagamuwa took into custody nine suspects including two army deserters in a night raid conducted at Aluthgama on Wednesday. Initial inquiries have revealed that the gang was responsible for killing Athapattu Hewawasam Liyanage Don Wasantha Dharmasiri alias Kaduwela Wasantha and six others, police claimed.

Police alleged that the gang that killed Wasantha had been led by a person identified as Dhammika Pradeep Kumara alias Karate Dhammika or Karate Master. A special police team investigating the incident arrested Karate Dhammika and his eight accomplices at a hotel in Aluthgama, Gangabada Road on Wednesday night around 11. The suspects had been sleeping in the hotel when the police raided the place. Police said that the arrested suspects had two T56 assault rifles and four pistols in their possession when the arrest was made. Police sources claimed that Karate Dhammika had said that Kaduwela Wasantha had killed a number of his people. He had further said that Kaduwela Wasantha was a relation of his and he had been waiting for the release of Wasantha to take revenge on him. He had said that some plans to murder Kaduwela Wasantha earlier failed. Police sources claimed "Karate Dhammika’ is also alleged to have said that they had decided last Sunday because Wasantha had to report to Nawagamuwa police every Sunday. He had deployed informants in the Kaduwela town to spy on the whereabouts of Wasantha and had activated the plan last Sunday.

Police said that three others of Karate Dhammika’s gang is were evading arrest. Police had also recovered some army uniforms and boots used in the killing from a paddy land.

Kaduwela Wasantha and six of his henchmen were killed on Vesak day (Sunday) by a gang disguised in army uniforms. They had stopped the private bus in which Wasantha and his friends were travelling in and had asked them to board a van with an army number plate. They had driven the van to a lonely place and shot and killed all seven including Kaduwela Wasantha.