What started out as a spontaneous decision among a group of Colombo friends to head to Hikkaduwa for a late night dinner turned into a nightmare experience for one party, which had a narrow escape from a gang of armed highwaymen.
The incident was described to the Sunday Times by one of the passengers. “We took the Southern Expressway, we were travelling in two cars. My husband and I and three friends were in the second car, with my husband at the wheel,” the passenger said. “We left Colombo at about 10.30 pm. We were on our way to Hikkaduwa for a meal.
“We exited the expressway at the turn-off to the Baddegama Road, which links up with the Galle Road at Hikkaduwa. This stretch of road, which goes past paddy fields and banana plantations, was dark and deserted.
“It was about a quarter past eleven and we were halfway along the road. The other car had gone ahead, and we could see no other cars on that stretch.
“Suddenly we saw ahead of us in the headlights two logs placed in the middle of the road, blocking our way. One of our friends in the back seat shouted, ‘Don’t stop, work the car around the logs and keep going. Then two men appeared from the left side of the road and attempted to open the car doors.
Fortunately the doors were centrally locked. The men were bare-chested, and one had a long knife in his hand and the other was holding a sickle. They had black scarves round their heads. We could see their faces. The men then started banging on the car windows. My husband managed to swing the vehicle around the logs and drive off. Further up the road, we saw a white van parked on the side, with thelights on. We kept driving, without stopping.
“When we reached Baddegama, we stopped at the police station and made a report. The officers on duty said this was the first time they had heard of such an incident. They didn’t seem very interested or concerned.
“We called our friends in the other car, and they said they had had no problems on the Baddegama Road. There were no logs in the middle of the road, and no armed men, they said. “Later they told us that there were other cars on the road at the time. It would seem that there was someone to tip off the gang that there was a solitary car coming along. That was our car, and that’s when the logs would have been rolled into place.”
The Baddegama Police later confirmed the incident with the Sunday Times, adding that when a police party visited the scene that night they found a log placed across the road. “We are taking the matter very seriously,” a senior policeman in the area told the Sunday Times. “We have doubled the police patrols on this stretch of the road after dark.”