Sunday, November 14, 1999 Published at 17:15 GMT
World: South Asia
Sri Lanka opposition demands extra security
The attack comes as civilians flee a rebel offensive further north
Sri Lanka's main opposition United National Party (UNP) has asked for extra security for its leader and presidential candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe, after he narrowly escaped injury in a bomb attack.
"I directly blame the government and its head, President Chandrika Kumaratunga,"Gamini Athukorale told reporters.
"She is the minister of defence and she should provide adequate security for the opposition leader," he said.
Mr Wickremesinghe escaped unhurt but two people died and more than 40 were injured.
He suggested to the BBC that he may have become a target because of a government campaign in the media saying he wanted to hand over parts of Sri Lanka to Tamil Tiger guerrillas.
Mr Wickremesinghe added that he advocated a process of de-escalation and a political solution to the Tamil conflict.
The bomb went off shortly after Mr Wickremesinghe had finished addressing a crowd of several thousand people.
It is the first election-related violence since it was announced last month that presidential elections would be held at the end of December - although two Tamil politicians have been killed in attacks in the past few months.
There has been speculation that the rebel Tamil Tigers, who were blamed for the assassination of a presidential candidate five years ago, might try to carry out similar attacks in the run-up to next month's poll.