Lone gunman panics police force

[TamilNet, Sunday, 03 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Two contradictory stories emerged today of a man who went berserk at the Kalmunai police station this evening, shooting three policemen dead and wounding seven others, before he was killed, said sources in Batticaloa.

The dead policemen were a sub inspector and two constables, said sources.

One version identified the gunman as a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) deserter who was taken in for questioning on the complaint of a Dr. Thomas whose house he had burgled.

The man, whose name is yet to be divulged, was being assaulted in police custody when he wrenched an automatic weapon from the hands of a policeman and opened fire.

The other version, put forward by the police, is that the man was a suicide bomber of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who had entered the police station for the specific task of creating mayhem there.

The reason for the police to maintain this version is the rather inglorious retreat of the entire station in the face of this lone man with a gun, said sources.

Police personnel in the station ran out helter-skelter as the shots were fired, said sources.

The police also sent an SOS message to the neighbouring police and Special Task Force (STF) camps which sent in reinforcements.

The police station came under siege from the police and Special Task Force (STF) personnel who kept a continuous volley of fire directed at the station and even fired mortars, said sources.

All the shops in Kalmunai town put down their shutters and civilians deserted the roads as the firing began said sources.

Even public transport from the town plying to Akkaraipattu in the south and Batticaloa in the north came to a halt, sources said.

A conference of senior personnel of the Amparai police and the STF was in progress a short while ago at the Kalmunai police station.

 

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