The Ministry of Defence (MOD) claims the attack on the Uthayan office in Jaffna early this morning was an inside job.
Director General of the Media Center for National Security Lakshman Hulugalla was quoted on the MOD website as saying that the attack was carried out in an attempt to tarnish the image of the government.
“The setting fire to Uthayan newspaper printing office has been an inside job to tarnish the government’s image,” he said.
Meanwhile the army rejected allegations that troops in Jaffna may have carried out the attack.
Army spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the military is duty bound to protect the constitutional rights and freedom of expression is one of the guaranteed rights.
“The Military has no requirement to engage in acts against freedom of expression. There are a large number of different media institutions in Sri Lanka and anyone following what is published/broadcasted/telecasted would know that criticism on Government as well as Military are very common,” he said.
He said that according to preliminary investigations carried out by the authorities the damage caused by the latest attack is not excessive.
“Only three paper rolls are partially burnt along with few papers, no damage to any printing machines, and power supply has been interrupted due to heat. When power is restored the paper can resume its operations, perhaps today itself,” he said.
“As things appear, it is obvious that the publicity gained by the paper through this alleged attack on its printing press is enormous. The local as well as international political mileage that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), as well as other international pro LTTE organizations propagating the ideology of establishing a separate state in Sri Lanka, gain by way of discrediting the Government and Military is much greater than the physical damage. This publicity will surely be used by them to support their widespread claims that international interference is essential for local reconciliation,” the army spokesman added. (Colombo Gazette)