Newsagent ‘fought for his life’ against armed robbers

thisisoxfordshire: Vijaya Bandara Karunaratne rests his injured hand following the robbery Vijaya Bandara Karunaratne rests his injured hand following the robbery

HE served in the Sri Lankan army for more than 20 years.

But yesterday, newsagent Vijaya Bandara Karunaratne, known as Karu, said he feared masked robbers would kill him.

The 60-year-old was attacked by two armed robbers who raided the Littlemore News in Cowley Road on Sunday.

As reported in yesterday’s Oxford Mail, the men, wielding a knife and a hammer targeted the store just after midday, threatening Karu.

The former army major suffered a deep cut to his hand and hurt his knee in the scuffle with the robbers at the shop.

Yesterday he told The Oxford Mail: “They came and they tried to kill me. I fought back to save my life. I fought for my life.”

Karu, a member of Littlemore Parish Council, was again at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital yesterday being treated for the injury to his right hand.

The newsagent, who was injured in Sri Lanka’s civil war conflict more than 20 years ago, said he chased the first robber out of the shop as soon as he noticed he had his face covered with a scarf.

But he said: “He pushed me and he tried to hit me with the knife.”

Karu said he then grabbed the attacker’s hand before the other robber came in and they both tried to push him behind a door. He said: “I fought back and they couldn’t do it.”

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The robbers wrestled the till from Karu but he chased after them before falling on the steps outside the store. He said the pair tried to steal cigarettes and watches but he managed to stop them.

The two men fled with the cash register on bicycles. The police helicopter was used to try to find them.

Karu, who also works as a freelance journalist, served in the Sri Lankan army for 22 years until he was injured. He also worked as a mace bearer at the Sri Lankan parliament for 12 years before he came to England in 2006 and began working at the shop in 2008. His wife, daughter and son live in Sri Lanka.

Littlemore parish councillor Dorian Hancock yesterday praised the newsagent’s actions.

He said: “The attack from what I understand was quite vicious. It is very frightening. He is a very brave man.”

And he said: “The sort of people that committed this crime are the sort of people who wouldn’t really care about anybody. It is indiscriminate.”

Police described one robber as white, of a medium build, and shorter than 5ft 9in. He was wearing a dark brown hooded top. The other was white, slim and taller than 5ft 9in.

Two men were arrested last night.

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