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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Senior Sri Lankan army man killed
Bullet holes in windscreen of Maj Muthalif's car
The shots were fired from close range
A senior member of the Sri Lankan intelligence services has been shot dead in the capital, Colombo.

Maj Nizam Muthalif was shot while travelling in his chauffeur-driven car.

Defence Ministry spokesman Brig Daya Ratnayake said the attack had been carried out by Tamil Tiger rebels: "It was a well planned operation."

There has been no comment from the Tamil Tigers on the attack. Sri Lanka's three-year-old ceasefire has been under growing strain in recent months.

Died from wounds

Maj Muthalif's car was waiting at traffic lights at about 0830 local time (0230 GMT) in the capital when it came under attack.

Reports say two men on a motorbike opened fire before speeding away.

Scene of the attack on Maj Muthalif's car
The killing highlights security problems in the capital

The chauffeur drove the major to hospital but he died of his wounds there.

"All the indications suggest it was the work of the [Tamil Tigers] Brig Ratnayake told the Associated Press news agency.

The Tamil Tigers and the government are both still formally observing a ceasefire declared in February 2002.

But both sides accuse the other of killings and other breaches of the agreement.

The situation was complicated by a rupture in the Tamil Tigers in March 2004, with the main rebel leadership accusing the government of siding with the breakaway rebels.

There has been an increase in violence this year amid a deadlock in negotiations between the Tigers and the government.

Peace talks between the two sides have been suspended since April 2003.

More than 60,000 people have died since the rebels began their fight for a homeland for minority Tamils in 1983.

Tuesday's shooting highlights concerns over security in the capital.

In April a leading Tamil journalist, Dharmaretnam Sivaram, was kidnapped and shot dead in Colombo.

Last July, the Tamil Tigers denied being involved in a suicide bombing which killed four police officers in the capital.




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