Sri Lanka’s main Tamil party yesteray accused the government of attacking the biggest opposition newspaper in an attempt to silence its political rivals ahead of key local council elections.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which represents minority ethnic Tamils, said Saturday’s torching of the Uthayan newspaper presses added to a “fear psychosis” among the population in the northern district of Jaffna.
“One of the main objectives [of the attack] is silencing the opposition ahead of provincial council elections,” TNA legislator Suresh Premachandran said.
“There is a fear psychosis in Jaffna, people are living in fear. They are scared to come out for political meetings. They fear there could be violence,” he said.
Three gunmen staged Saturday’s pre-dawn arson assault on Uthayan’s office and printing press in Jaffna, the capital of Sri Lanka’s former civil war zone in the north of the country.
Tamils have pressed for provincial elections to be called in the island’s Tamil-dominated north, where the first ever such vote is scheduled for September.
Local media reports quoted the defense ministry’s publicity arm claiming that the attack was an “inside job” to discredit the government after the US expressed concern for media freedom and urged a credible investigation.