Sri Lanka's latest suicide bombing happened as members of the opposition United National Party opened a new office. The bomber hugged retired Maj Gen Janaka Perera before detonating his device.
The dead and injured were rushed to hospitals which struggled to cope. The army has blamed the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels. It says that at least 80 people were wounded in addition to the 27 who died.
The attack comes as the army says that it is on the verge of capturing the rebel-held town of Kilinochchi, a strategic and symbolic prize in an intensifying war which it says it is now beginning to win.
Medical staff in Sri Lanka have had to deal with Tamil Tiger suicide blasts for much of the last 20 years. Those who have died include prime ministers, presidents, senior servicemen and civilians.
More than 70,000 people have been killed as rebels fight for an independent homeland in the north and east. They say that Tamil people are discriminated against by the Sinhalese majority.