[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Thousands at minister's funeral
Funeral pyre
The funeral pyre was lit at sunset
The funeral of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar who was shot dead at his home on Friday has taken place in Colombo.

A heavy security cordon was in place with soldiers and navy personnel joining thousands of police.

Mr Kadirgamar's coffin, draped with the Sri Lankan flag, was taken on a 2km procession to the cremation site.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga says the Tamil Tigers are responsible for the killing but they deny involvement.

Mrs Kumaratunga made a surprise appearance at the funeral, with reports suggesting she would not attend because of security fears.

National mourning

Mr Kadirgamar's son and nephew lit the white, cloth-covered pyre at sunset.

Kadirgamar's widow Sugandhi at the funeral
Lakshman Kadirgamar's widow Sugandhi attends the funeral

"The evil hand of terrorism, which threatens the very fabric of civilised society, has taken away yet another champion of peace," Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse said in a speech before the ceremony.

On Sunday, in her first TV speech since the killing, Mrs Kumaratunga vowed to redouble efforts to reach a peace deal.

The government said on Monday there would have to be a "serious review" of the peace process, but insisted it would abide by the ceasefire.

Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee were the last to pay their respects at Mr Kadirgamar's home before the procession.

Buddhist monks chanted as the journey began past thousands of mourners on the procession to the cremation in Independence Square.

Feb 2002: Government and Tigers sign ceasefire paving way for talks
Dec 2002: Both sides agree to share power with autonomy for Tamils in north and east
Apr 2003: Tigers suspend talks claiming marginalisation
Mar 2004: Renegade Tiger leader splits group in east
Jul 2004: Suicide blast in Colombo - first since 2001
Dec 2004: Tamil areas badly hit as tsunami strikes
Jun 2005: Aid deal reached with Tigers amid protests

Mr Kadirgamar, himself a Tamil, had campaigned to have the Tigers outlawed in other countries.

The coffin entered the square on a white carriage with a golden canopy and was greeted by brass bands.

The president had declared a day of national mourning, with flags flying at half-mast across Colombo.

But the call was not respected all over the island.

A UN official said crowds in Sri Lanka's rebel-held north had cut or removed UN flags flying at half mast in respect of the politician.

UN spokesman Brennon Jones said: "The incident is of deep concern to us."

Foreign Secretary S Paliakkara said on Monday the killing was a "serious setback to the peace process".

A huge manhunt is underway involving more than 1,000 people to find the sniper or snipers believed to have carried out the killing.

The minister was shot several times in his head and chest while getting out of his swimming pool.

The president said investigations so far indicated the Tigers were involved in the murder.

But in her nationwide address on Sunday, she vowed: "I will redouble my efforts and the commitment of my government to implement the task of devolution of power based through dialogue.

"We can't let terror and hatred overcome us. As long as the ethnic problem remains unresolved, violence and terror will always be with us."

See the funeral procession in Colombo

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific