By Rose Kenny
The two T-56 assault rifles that were reported missing from the Panadura North police station on July 06th was recovered during investigations launched into the shooting of two policemen at Akuressa on September 06th.
Police Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said On September 05, two police officers on patrol in Thibbatuwawa, Akuressa had given chase to three persons on a motorcycle which had no license plates around 1.15 am as the motorcyclists had failed to obey the order to stop. The three persons were travelling in a Scooty. When the two policemen had given chase, the suspects had opened fire at the police officers and fled.
The injured police sergeant and constable had sustained injures to their legs and they are currently receiving treatment at the Matara Hospital.
Akuressa Police had continued investigations into the incident under the directives of the Senior DIG of the Southern Province and Sabaragamuwa Province Roshan Fernando as per the instructions of the IGP.
All leave facilities of the Matara Division police officers had been cancelled in order to be deployed for this operation to apprehend the suspects.
DIG Vijitha Gunaratne in charge of the Matara and Tangalle Division, SP Anil Priyantha in charge of the Matara Division, and ASP Susil Wijegunawardena of the Akuressa Division directed the investigations into this incident.
Addressing a media briefing in Akuressa this afternoon (10), Police Media Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said several of the adjoining police stations had assisted in the investigations in order to apprehend the suspects involved in these incidents.
“The Akuressa Police OIC Chief Inspector Premalal Silva had received information regarding this incident and based on information received by the Akuressa Police OIC, one of the suspects on the motorcycle who had shot the policemen was taken into custody on Monday (09) evening around 4.00pm.He was arrested in the Paraduwa area. The suspect is a resident of Paragodellahena, Paraduwa, Akuressa and is identified as 16-year-old Imihamilaya Sithum Chaminda. He is employed as a laborer. Upon interrogation of this suspect, information had been gathered regarding the other two suspects who had been on the motorcycle that night. Accordingly, the Akuressa Police had arrested the two other suspects at the Tangalle Bus stop while they were waiting to board a bus to Embilipitiya,” SP Gunasekara said..
The two arrested suspects are 28-year-old Sepala Dissanayake Kapila Sampath, a resident of Wikumgama, Elgiriya, Thelijjawila. He is attached to the Panadura Army camp. He is said to have been the one who had operated the T56 rifle and shot at the two police officers.
The other suspect is 21-year-old Kalawila Pathiranage Dilan Harshana, a resident of Katuketiya, Horowgama, Elpitiya. He is the one who had been riding the scooty.
Following interrogation of the suspects, police had recovered two T-56 assault rifles, two magazines and ammunition hidden away by the suspects. The two rifles had been wrapped securely and hidden under a culvert on Vikumgama Road in Elgiriya. It has been revealed that one of these two firearms might have been used to open fire at the two police officers, and there were 18 live ammunition rounds in the weapon and another magazine and 10 live ammunition rounds wrapped in plastic, the Police Spokesman said.
The scooty was also found to have been borrowed by one of the suspects from a neighbor. The motorcycle was also taken into police custody.
The Police Spokesman said, “Upon investigations carried out regarding the two T56 weapons it was revealed that an individual from Thelijjawila had been on the lookout for a T56 weapon in order to conduct robbery. He had notified this to the Army soldier and having that in mind.
Thindividual who had wanted the T56 weapon has also been arrested and he is a 39-year-old resident of Kankanamwatte, Elgiriya, Thelijjawila known as Gamaachchige Indika Udaya Kumara, a three wheel driver. Investigations have also revealed that he also organizes gambling tournaments for money. This soldier had then told another soldier attached to the same Panadura Army camp regarding the need for several weapons. After the April 21 Easter Sunday attacks, the army soldiers were deployed for service to various places and this second soldier had been deployed for duty at the Panadura (North) Police Station. While he was on duty there, he had spotted the two T56 rifles inside a Cab and had stolen it. He then takes the two weapons and hands it over in Matara to the 16-year-old suspect in custody Imihamilaya Sithum Chaminda and 19-year-old Sepala Dissanayakalage Ruwan Sampath, the brother of the first soldier who was arrested, Sepala Dissanayake Kapila Sampath. They had then transported the two weapons to Akuressa. Ruwan Sampath is also currently in police custody.
Accordingly, a team of officers from Akuressa Police arrested an army soldier at Nalluruwa in Panadura North last morning in connection with the theft of the two firearms.
Meanwhile another suspect has been arrested for allegedly aiding and abetting this incident as well as for funding them, police said.
So far 6 suspects including two army soldiers have been arrested along with two T-56 rifles and the motorcycles used by the suspects during the shooting.