Seeking to end the growing gang wars, Sri Lankan police on Sunday re-introduced war-time era security road blocks and random checks of vehicles here in the country’s capital city.

The police operation would cover the 102 police stations in the Western Province here. They have been asked to erect snap blocks, a common practice during the island’s separatist war that ended nearly seven years ago, police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.

"The objective is to prevent serious crime and drug smuggling as well as to catch those committing serious crime," the spokesman said.

He said there was a surge in drug smuggling and shootings that prompted the authorities to take extraordinary measures. The Inspector General NK Ilangakoon has appointed his senior deputy inspector general, Pujitha Jayasundera to head the operation.

There have been as many as five shootouts between underworld gangs here during the last three days.

In the first incident, a prison department vehicle was fired at injuring a key murder case suspect who has been hospitalised with critical injuries.

Two suspects were shot in front of a court premises and another underworld figure was shot when he was being transported in a prison bus from Courts to prison recently. A pregnant woman was injured in a shooting near the main prison here on Saturday.

Additionally 10 Divisional Enforcement Teams will be deployed to each police division headed by a Police Inspector.

These teams will gather intelligence and respond immediately to crimes.

The new measures brought back memories of war-time Colombo when the city witnessed frequent stops for security checks.

At least 100,000 people were killed in the 37-year separatist war which ended after a major offensive by the military.

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