Alan Strathern

A stream of tuk-tuks barred our passage into the lane and we waited in the market for an age before we could get through. Later, we discovered that the police had used the lane as a depot for traffic cleared in the wake of an emergency: several truck-loads of explosives had been found – enough to obliterate most of Colombo, it was suggested – and one cache had been uncovered in the next suburb. Now I remembered that I’d seen a policeman dragging his wooden pole along the drains, checking for explosives. I hadn’t really registered it at the time: it’s a common enough sight in Sri Lanka these days. Since the government of Mahinda Rajapaksa took power two years ago, the 2002 ceasefire has become steadily more fictitious.

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