Monday, May 18, 2009

An acid and knife attack on two Sinhalese students in Australia

Australian Associated Press General News
(c) 2009 Australian Associated Press Pty Ltd. All Rights Reserved

ACID By Karen Davis

SYDNEY, May 18 AAP - An acid and knife attack on two Sri Lankan students as they slept in their Sydney home is tragic and disturbing, the country's consul general says.

Gothami Indikadahena has visited the home in Alexandra Avenue at Westmead, where five men forced their way inside about midnight (AEST) on Sunday.

The intruders threw acid on two men inside and stabbed one, who was also left with a broken ankle.

The house has shattered windows and there are blood splashes on the pavement outside. Broken windows and furniture are further evidence of the violent incident.

A witness to the attack was now being protected for fear of another attack, Ms Indikadahena said.

"This is a very tragic incident - these boys were just sleeping," she said.

"We want to contain these incidents because we are a united country ... we have appealed to the Sri Lankan community not to take these incidents serious.

"We have a witness and we are protecting him because we are worried that he could also be subject to attack."

She has called for calm in the wake of the attack, which left one of the men in Concord Hospital with burns and the other in Westmead Hospital.

"I am really very disturbed. These are innocent boys," she told reporters at the scene.

"I feel like they are my brothers or my sons.

"I feel very very sad."

She said the men were foreign students and one of them had worked at a KFC restaurant.

Their families had been informed and were worried, particularly for the burned man who was now fighting for his life.

Police have refused to confirm reports the attack is linked to unrest between the Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic groups.

Ms Indikadahena said she understood the boys were not connected to an earlier brawl involving the rival ethnic groups outside Westmead railway station.

Police said two carloads of men assaulted another man who had taken a Tamil flag from them and snapped a pole in half on Railway Parade at Westmead.

The man was taken to Westmead Hospital with lacerations and deep tissue damage.

It follows weeks of protests in Sydney and Canberra in which Tamils urged the government to take action to stop what they call genocide in their homeland.

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers admitted defeat on Sunday in their 37-year battle for an independent ethnic homeland.

"I just needed to see the scene for myself because I need to send a report to Colombo," Ms Indikadahena said.