Source Pravda.Ru

Suspected rebels kill member of rival Tamil group in Sri Lanka capital

Suspected Tamil Tiger gunmen shot and killed a member of a rival Tamil group in Sri Lanka's capital Sunday, police said, prompting security forces to ramp up defenses ahead of this week's presidential election.

The victim, A. Rasanagayam, was an active member of the Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party, said Deputy Inspector General of Police Sirisena Herath. The EPDP has pledged support for hardline Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse in the Nov. 17 poll.

Rasanagayam was traveling in a scooter rickshaw near a Hindu temple in Colombo when the gunmen fired at him, Herath said. The driver was wounded and in serious condition.

Herath said police suspect Tamil Tigers rebels were behind the shooting. The rebel group has been blamed for dozens of other EPDP killings.

"The pattern (of the attack) is the same and we believe that they (Tamil Tigers) were behind the killing," Herath said.

The Defense Ministry confirmed the killing, but did not provide details.

Additional soldiers were posted around the capital soon after the shooting.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam fought for nearly two decades for a separate state in the north and east for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils. About 65,000 people died in the civil conflict before a cease-fire was signed in 2002. Subsequent peace talks with the government broke down the following year over the rebels' demands for wide autonomy.

The EPDP, a coalition partner in the government, used to be a militant organization, but the group gave up its arms in the late 1980s to join the political mainstream.

The party, which accuses the LTTE of killing at least 40 of its members since the cease-fire, backs Rajapakse, who has vowed not to share political power with the rebels and to review the cease-fire deal if he becomes president, AP reported. V.A.

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