Unidentified assailants have shot and seriously wounded a journalist for an independent newspaper near Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, his colleagues and police say.

Faraz Shaukarally, a journalist of the Sunday Leader, was the latest victim of a string of attacks on journalists and media workers in this Indian ocean island.

"Investigations are under way," police said in a statement but did not elaborate on the unidentified assailants or the motive for the shooting.

Sakunthala Perera, the editor of the English-language newspaper, said Faraz was wounded on Friday night by three armed men who stormed into his home in Mt Lavinia on the outskirts of Colombo.

Listening Post - Sri Lanka's media crackdown 

She said Faraz suffered injuries to his neck and added that he was writing investigative stories for the paper and the "attack could be related to an article" written by him.

The director of Colombo National Hospital, Dr Anil Jasinghe, said Faraz was in intensive care and would undergo an operation shortly.

In January 2009, the editor of the Sunday Leader, Lasantha Wickramatunga, was killed near his office.

He was a staunch critic of the government led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Attacks against journalists and news outlets have continued despite the end of the decades-long war between the military and Tamil Tiger separatist rebels that same year.

Sri Lanka lifted a state of emergency in August 2011, but media rights groups say journalists have been forced to self-censor their work amid fear of physical attacks.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says Sri Lanka was the fourth most dangerous country for journalists in 2010.

More than a dozen journalists have fled the country over the last four years, fearing for their safety and seeking refuge abroad.

Source: Agencies