Sri Lanka troops kill police officer in botched drug raid

Sri Lanka troops kill police officer in botched drug raid

Sri Lanka troops kill police officer in botched drug raid

When troops opened fire on an undercover team during a narcotics search at a hotel in Sri Lanka on Sunday, one police officer was killed and another was gravely injured, according to local police.

Included in a larger anti-drug campaign known as “Yuktiya,” or justice, the unit produced more than 17,000 arrests in the last three weeks, according to the police.

A police official who spoke to AFP over the phone on condition of anonymity said that the undercover agents were at a beach hotel in Weligama, a well-known surf location on the island nation’s southern coast.

According to the officer, army forces who had been sent in to support local police in the anti-drug operation hurried to the location to look into a separate incident and started firing at a van that was leaving the scene quickly.

“They did not realise that there were officers from the Colombo Crime Division in the van leaving the hotel,” the officer said, adding that an investigation was underway.

It was the first fatality reported since a major crackdown on the narcotics trade was launched on December 10.

The raids were paused for two days for Christmas as police were deployed for other security duties, but the campaign resumed after the holiday.

The cordon-and-search operations, carried out by police with the help of heavily armed troops, and mass arrests have provoked allegations of rights violations.

Rights activist Ambika Satkunanathan posted on social media that the searches were not based on evidence but were “targeting only poor areas”.

Police were arresting drug users and small-time dealers but “not focusing on large-scale traffickers”, she added.