One of the constables was shot dead while the other escaped with injuries after they were stripped naked and taken to the Badagamuwa Forest in Kurunegala.
The two police constables were on traffic duty from 10.00 p.m. to 6.00 a.m. near the Getituwana Junction on the Dambulla-Kurunegala main road.
They had stopped a van to inspect it about 1.00 a.m. when a man armed with a T-56 assault rifle had pointed it at the two policemen and bundled them into the van.
Police Spokesman Ajith Rohana said the van had then headed towards Colombo from Dambulla and having approached the Badagamuwa Forest they had asked the two policemen to step out of the van.
The armed men had shot Constable Chandana Sampath and when they attempted to shoot his companion Constable Weerasuriya he had fought them and managed to get away taking with him the magazine of the T-56 rifle.
He had run till he reached a house from where he had borrowed a sarong.
During his get-away attempt he had suffered severe injuries after being caught against a barb wire fence.
With the help of the house owner he had managed to contact the Kurunegala Police who rushed to the scene and admitted him to the Kurunegala Teaching Hospital.
The police have not recorded a statement from Constable Weerasuriya who is still in a state of shock.
“We believe there were four armed men including the van driver. We have found that it was a white van but the registration number is still not known,” he said.
The case has been handed over to the CID for further investigations.
Around 2.30 a.m. a fuel station in Weweldeniya was robbed by some men who had arrived in a van and the police are also investigating whether these incidents are in any way connected.
“This incident is a severe blow to the implementation of law and order by the police. The traffic policemen conduct their duties to protect lives and property so this is a very unfortunate incident,” SSP Rohana said.
Police Chief N.K. Illangakone posthumously promoted Constable Chandana Sampath to the rank of Police Sergeant.
He announced a reward of Rs.1million to anyone who gave reiable information leading to the arrest of the culprits.
The two policemen had been transferred to the Kurunegala police in January. The victim had served earlier in Mannar, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Chilaw. He was also a recipient of the Northern Humanitarian Operation Medal.
SSP Rohana said since last June the police had come under attack on 140 occasions. (Supun Dias, Sanath Desmond, Sunil Kahagalla and Pushpakumara Jayaratne)
Pix by Pushpakumara Jayaratne