Police and army have launched a manhunt for a suspect who escaped into the c forest from police custody after a car robbery at Punani. The suspect, who had led the police to the rest of his gang, during the ensuing exchange of fire between the police and the other suspects in Dimbulagala, had given the slip. The area had been thoroughly surrounded by the army and police personnel. Therefore the police expect an early breakthrough.
He is believed to be the leader of an armmed robber gang made up of ex-LTTE cadres who had been terrorizing the Welikanda, Polonnaruwa and Punnani area for about a week.
In the shoot-out with the suspects two ex-LTTE cadres were killed.
After the four-member gang had hijacked the car at Punani, in the Valachchena police area, in the early hours of yesterday, two of them had got off in the Dimbulagala area and the other had proceeded towards Polonnaruwa. The car was intercepted by the army at the Batticaloa Junction and the leader was taken into custody with a T-56 assault riffle.
It is believed the fourth suspect had remained in Punani.
The hijacked vehicle was a new Elite car bearing the registration number WP KU 2824.
The police then elicited information from the suspect on where the other suspects were dropped and went to the exact place where they got off after the robbery.
Newly appointed police spokesman Superintendent Buddika Siriwardene told The Island that the suspects on seeing the police started firing at them and the police returned fire. The bodies of both gangsters were found near Dalukana lake in Dimbulagala along with a T-56 assault rifle and three grenades.