Army officer shot dead
at traffic lights: Major blow to military intelligence apparatus
Senaka De Silva
a major blow to the military intelligence apparatus, a top officer
of the Army intelligence unit was gunned down at Polhengoda by two
suspected LTTE pistol gang members around 8.30 yesterday morning.
killing of Major Tuwan Nizam Muthalif took place about 200 metres
from the Polhengoda army camp in the thick of morning traffic along
Elvitigala Mawatha at Narahenpita.
39-year-old intelligence officer was travelling from his official
residence at the army quarters in Manning town to the Kotelawela
Defence Academy in Ratmalana when he was gunned down.
to initial investigations, the Major had left home around 7.30 a.m.
He was seated on the rear seat of the Toyota Corolla car driven
by an Army driver.
Muthalif who was stationed in Vavuniya had come to Colombo
about three months ago to follow a computer course at the Kotalawala Defence
the car arrived at the Polhengoda Badrawathi Maha Vidyalaya it
was about 7.45 a.m. and the traffic lights had turned red. There
were two more vehicles in front of the Major's car. Just then, the
killers came on a Honda trailer motorbike.
pillion rider got off the bike and started shooting, piercing the
shutters of the vehicle. Even after the Major fell on his seat after
receiving gun shots, the assassin came near him and continued to
say that after the slaying, the assassin ran back to the
motocycle, got on to the pillion and they sped off along Polhengoda road.
killers came on an unregistered bike bearing CC numbers and the
assassin wore a black jacket and a black helmet.
say the Army driver had spotted a person approaching the car with
a pistol. He told the Major that a man was approaching with a gun,
the Major pulled his own pistol out and tried to get out but it
was too late.
driver said that to escape the bullets, he bent his head and took
cover in the front seat.
the shooting was taking place Inspector Dharmapriya and Constable
W.L.K. Fonseka were on duty opposite the Badrawathi MV.
On hearing gunshots, PC Fonseka had run towards the scene and
said he saw two people fleeing on a unregistered motorcycle. The
two officers were not armed.
injured officer was rushed to the nearby Apollo hospital but was
pronounced dead on admission.
shots had caused three severe injuries to his head. Police said
they recovered nine spent shells of 3.8 mm pistol ammunition from
the scene of the crime.
sources said major Muthalif was under threat and had been assigned
said Major Muthalif had been responsible for the arrest of several
LTTE operatives and was known to be on the hit list of the Tigers.
senior army officer said that although an army escort accompanied
the major providing him security, yesterday they did not travel
with Major Muthalif.
was not known whether the army escort men did not accompany him
because they were on leave. The officer said if leave was given
it would have been approved by Major Muthalif himself.
after the killing, a cordon-and-search operation was launched to
track down the assailants. Police said they recorded statements
from several eyewitnesses while the Government Analyst and fingerprint
experts also rushed to the scene. Police Chief Chandra Fernando
said the Colombo Crime Division and the CID were leading investigations.
Muthaliff is the 10th member attached to the army intelligence unit
killed since the signing of the ceasefire agreement and is the highest-ranking
officer to be assassinated in recent times.
last intelligence officer to be killed was Lance Corporal Rupasinghe
who was gunned down in Jaffna in November last year. So far 25 members
attached to the intelligence units of the Navy and the Air Force
have been killed.
leading figure in the military intelligence unit, Major Muthalif
joined the army as a cadet officer in 1986. Hailing from Mount Lavinia,
he had his education at D.S. Senanayake College, Colombo. For four
years he had served in the Gemunu Watch and was later assigned to
the intelligence unit due to special skills shown by him in that
received special training in intelligence gathering and special
operations at military academies and training centres in several
countries including the United States, Pakistan, and Malaysia.
Muthalif was married to the Commanding Officer of the Army Women's
Corps, Major Kumudini Amerasinghe Muthalif and they have two children,
a nine-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.