Drug raid goes awry in South; Sergeant killed, SI injured



By Norman Palihawadane and Hemantha Randunu

A police sergeant was killed and a sub inspector injured during a shooting incident near a hotel at Weligama yesterday. It was claimed by local police that a soldier had fired at a van used by the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) for its operations.

The deceased has been identified as Sergeant Upul Chaminda Kumara (46) a resident of Galewela.Police said that the CCD team, comprising eight men and officers, had gone to Weligama to conduct a raid on a narcotic network headed by underworld kingpins known as Harak Kata and Midigama Ruwan.When the van neared the W15 Hotel at Pelena roundabout, on the New Galle Road, someone from the hotel fired at the vehicle.

After the van came under attack, the CCD sleuths in the van returned fire. A different team consisting of police and military personnel was conducting a joint raid in search of narcotics in the area at the time of the incident.

As shooting continued, the CCD vehicle sped away despite the orders by the Weligama police to stop it. A soldier who was with the police opened fire on the speeding vehicle, which moved toward Imaduwa Expressway entrance.

The vehicle was stopped by the local police at the expressway entry point, and the CCD officials revealed their identity. The police rushed the wounded sergeant and SI to hospital. The sergeant was declared dead on admission.

Subsequent investigations revealed that the soldier had mistaken the police raiding team for an underworld gang.

The CCD sources said that they had launched an operation to nab 31 narcotic dealers belonging to networks of Harak Kata and Midigama Ruwan the previous day. I had nabbed 11, including four women belonging to this network by 30 Dec. The CCD team had been dispatched to Weligama to arrest the rest of the drug dealers, police said, adding that they had received information that one of them was hiding at the W 15 hotel in Weligama.

Police media spokesman SSP Nihal Thalduwa said that the police had raided the W 15 hotel on 15 previous instances and nabbed drug dealers along with narcotics in the past.Hospital sources said that the injured SI was out of danger.An investigation has been launched into the incident.