Attempt to extort money from minister, MP, Governor: Gang busted
Mastermind killed in police shooting

The police shot dead the leader of a notorious extortion gang on Wednesday night in Maligawatta. He was identified as Sandun Lasitha Kumara.

Kumara had led a gang of extortionists targeting politicians and businessmen, particularly in Colombo and its suburbs.

A senior police official told The Island that the police had opened fire when the suspect had resisted arrest.

His gang had also demanded protection money from a government minister, a political party leader and parliamentarian in the ruling coalition, a provincial governor and a chairman of a government institution.

Extortionists threatened the VIPs with death if they failed to pay up.

Acting on a number of complaints from victims, the police had traced the telephone calls to the Welikada Prison and a subsequent raid had led to the arrest of four extortionists serving prison terms. "They had been operating from behind bars," a police officer attached to the Colombo Crime Division told The Island.

The police said several prominent persons including top businessmen had, under threat, deposited huge sums of money in an account run by the gang.

The police believe there could have been some other pesons including prisons officers involved in the racket.

Mobile phones and arms have been recovered from prisons on several occasions in the past.

Notorious drug dealer Kudu Nauffer used a mobile phone from his prison cell to co-ordinate his narcotics business and direct an underworld gang to wipe out witnesses in a murder case.

Investigations were on, the police said.

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