Ethnic Tamil candidate shot dead in Sri Lanka
An electoral candidate was shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka Monday in the first political killing in the run up to parliamentary polls in April, said the police.
Two gunmen stormed a hospital in the town of Batticaloa and fired at Sinnathamby Sunderapillai who was receiving treatment for gunshot injuries suffered in an attack on Saturday, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing which came two days after the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International asked Tamil Tiger rebels not to kill opponents during the electoral campaign.
Sunderapillai, a member of the minority Tamil community, had sought to represent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's party at the April 2 vote despite threats from pro-rebel groups to keep out of contesting.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is not contesting the election, but is strongly backing the moderate Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which includes guerrilla proxies.
Diplomats and analysts say the TNA, which had 15 seats in the earlier parliament, could bag a sizeable number out of the 31 seats in the Tamil-dominated north-east.
With the majority Sinhalese community split between the parties of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her rival Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Tamils with a block vote could emerge kingmakers.
Kumaratunga called the election nearly four years ahead of schedule after accusing Wickremesinghe of making too many concessions to the Tigers in his bid to end three decades of ethnic conflict which has claimed more than 60,000 lives.