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SL opposition parliamentarian shot, killed

Reuters
Jan 01, 2008 at 01:46pm IST

Colombo A prominent Sri Lankan opposition Tamil parliamentarian was shot and killed on Monday, the military said, as the opposition charged that a lack of security made the government responsible for the death.

Main opposition United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian T Maheshweran was shot at a Hindu temple on Monday morning.

''The government had reduced his security after he was being critical of the government and the president, so the government should be held responsible for his killing,'' said UNP general Secretary Tissa Attanayake.

COUNTRY IN CRISIS: Military analysts say there is no clear winner, and fear the war could grind on for years.

''Maheshweran was voicing (concern) over the recent abductions of Tamils.''

The military said unidentified gunmen shot the parliamentarian while he was in a Hindu temple and police are investigating.

''Inside the (temple) unidentified gunmen had shot Mr Maheshweran and it was reported he died after being admitted to the hospital,'' said Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara.

The military said another civilian died after being admitted to the hospital, and seven others were injured from the firing.

Maheshweran, from Sri Lanka's minority Tamil community, was a former Hindu Affairs minister and party chief district organiser of the army-held northern Jaffna peninsula.

The killing came as fighting between government forces and Tamil Tiger rebel fighters was escalating with near daily land, sea and air clashes.

In 2005 Tamil National Alliance member of parliament, Joseph Pararajasingham, was shot and killed at a church in the eastern district of Batticaloa while attending Christmas Eve prayers, and another parliamentarian from the same party, Nadarajha Raviraj, was shot and killed in Colombo a year after.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and Tigers since early 2006 alone, taking the death toll since the war erupted in 1983 to around 70,000.

Military analysts say there is no clear winner on the horizon, and fear the war could grind on for years.

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