Fall of two peace keeping Sri Lankan soldiers in Mali

1 February 2019 02:50 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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aptain H.W.D. Jayawickrama (32) of the 11th Sri Lanka Light Infantry from Polonnaruwa and S.Samantha Wijekumara of First Mechanized Infantry Regiment from Thalakolawewa, Polpithigama of the Sri Lankan Army Contingent in Mali were killed on Friday morning following an explosion, while performing their UN Peacekeeping Mission duties in Keerana after their WMZ convoy was attacked by a rebel group using an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).   
Army Captain Jayawickrama (32) was a resident of Pulasthigama in Polonnaruwa and the dear son of the parents, U.D. Premakanthi (59) and Hamangoda Jayawickrama (61).   
His mother wept when she heard of the untimely death of her son: “I lost the biggest resource and the property. My God, how can I bear his loss? I waited for my son to return home. How did such a crime happen?”   

 

"The explosion had occurred when their operation vehicle was returning after providing food to a group of war refugees"


The deceased was the eldest son of a family of four children. His three younger brothers are also attached to the security forces. Two sons are employed in the Sri Lanka Army and the youngest in the SL Navy. Their father is a farmer belonging to the second generation of Pulasthigama B.O. G 398 area which belongs to the Parakrama Samudra Farming Settlement scheme in Polonnaruwa.  
 Hamangoda Wasantha Dinesh Jayawickrama was born on November 13, 1986 as the eldest son of the family of four children. He had joined the SL Army in December 2007, having gained his basic education from Abhayapura Maha Vidyalaya at Pulasthigama in Polonnaruwa and later from Pulasthigama Wijitha Maha Vidyalaya. He had joined the SL 11th Infantry as a second lieutenant and completed his training from the Diyatalawa Army Training School and had mostly served in the north and north eastern provinces. His colleagues had said that captain Jayawickrama had narrowly escaped death on three occasions previously during operations launched by the SL Army to save the country during the 30 year war in Sri Lanka. 

 

"UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, strongly condemned the attack which led to the deaths of two ‘blue helmets’ from Sri Lanka and injured six others"


He had sustained serious injuries in the Kilinochchi and Nandikadal war fronts. He had gone to serve as a soldier of the UN Peace Keeping Force stationed in Mali in West Africa in December 2007. In spite of the fact that his return to the country was scheduled after the completion of one year in 2018, he had got his contract extended by another six months.   His mother was eagerly awaiting her son’s return from Mali.   
The other soldier killed in the attack is Corporal S. Samantha Wijekumara of Polpithigama, Rawaela, Batuyaya.   
In this explosion in a desert area in Duenza in Mali the Sri Lankan captain of the troop and Samantha were killed on the spot. Several others injured in the explosion were admitted to hospital.   


The explosion had occurred when their operation vehicle was returning after providing food to a group of war refugees. Samantha Wijekumara was 37 when he died. He was a father of two daughters aged 8 and 3 years.The bodies of the dead soldiers are expected to be brought to Sri Lanka on 3rd February.   
Samantha and other soldiers of the group left Sri Lanka to join the Mali Peacekeeping operation and were due to return to the country on 24th December 2018. However they have had to stay there till the next batch of soldiers arrived in Mali, Sunethra the wife of Samantha said. Samantha served in Sri Lanka Army and was attached to the Mechanical Corp.   

 

  • "While engaged in war in the North he was in the forefront but never spoke of the war while at home"

  • "He had joined the SL 11th Infantry as a second lieutenant and completed his training from the Diyatalawa Army Training School and had mostly served in the north and north eastern provinces"

  • "His colleagues had said that captain Jayawickrama had narrowly escaped death on three occasions previously during operations launched by the SL Army to save the country during the 30 year war in Sri Lanka"

  • "the group of soldiers  at the Mali Peacekeeping operation were due to return to the country in December 2018"


Having studied at the Rawaela Junior School upto the GCE O/L examination, he had joined the Sri Lanka Army in 2001. Serving in the army as a tank operator he had spent most of his service period in the North in active service till the end of the war.  
 Samantha married Malkanthi of Andulgodakanda in June 2006. While in Mali, Samantha had been in constant touch with his family and had been calling them daily. 
He had shown special attention about the future of his two daughters, to give them a good education and to provide them with a beautiful home was the great expectation of his life, Sunethra Malkanthi said with tears in her eyes.   While engaged in war in the North he was in the forefront but never spoke of the war while at home. 


Meanwhile, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, strongly condemned the attack which led to the deaths of two ‘blue helmets’ from Sri Lanka and injured six others.   
Mr Guterres conveyed his deep condolences to the Government of Sri Lanka, and the families of the victims, and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.   

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