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Tamil journalists targeted with threat of execution.

TAMIL journalists in Sri Lanka were issued with death threats on Thursday in leaflets posted under the door of their office.

Threatening leaflets were left at the Batticaloa Press Club in Sri Lanka’s eastern province as journalists gathered there for a meeting, according to activist Ruki Fernando.

Photographs of those targeted were printed on the leaflets which read: “Warning! Warning! These are the foreign tiger-funded reporters opposing the Sri Lankan government. They will soon be given death punishment by us.”

The origin of the threats, which drew condemnation from the International Federation of Journalists, was not immediately known, but local paramilitary groups were thought to be responsible and a complaint was lodged with local police.

The threats follow a commemoration held earlier this month for Sinhala journalist, human-rights activist and opposition politician Lasantha Wickrematunge who was murdered in January 2009.

Mr Wickrematunge had been a sharp critic of prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government and was killed days before he was due to give evidence against the premier’s brother –former defence secretary and current president Gotabaya Rajapaska – over an allegedly corrupt arms deal.

Mr Wickrematunge was a high-profile campaigner for press freedom in Sri Lanka and his death drew international outrage and accusations of a cover-up.

In April last year Mr Wickrematunge’s daughter, Ahimsa Wickrematunge, filed a civil lawsuit against Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the US, claiming he had ordered the killing, but the California court rejected it on technical grounds without hearing its merits.

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