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Wednesday, 23 August, 2000, 12:32 GMT 13:32 UK
Pre-poll violence in Sri Lanka
JVP demonstration in Colombo
The JVP has blamed the government for the attack
An activist from the opposition United National Party (UNP) has been shot dead in central Sri Lanka.

It is the second killing believed to be related to the general election scheduled for October.

UNP member Chatura Saman Kumara was killed while he was putting up election posters.


Police officers who were there... could defend this incident but they didn't do that. They were very afraid [of] higher authorities

Victim's uncle KK Thilakaratne
There have been warnings from several quarters, including the country's influential Buddhist clergy, of a possible rise in violence before the polls are held.

The funeral of the other murdered opposition activist, a member of the Marxist JVP, was held in Colombo. Chammika Sudantha Silva was a member of the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front).

His party say that he died because he was attacked on Saturday by supporters of the ruling Peoples' Alliance.

However the government has denied that its supporters were responsible.

Blame

Mr Silva's family say that he and four other JVP members were attacked by armed government supporters dressed in plain clothes.

Ballot boxes
There are widespeard fears of election violence
The family say Mr Silva died following a severe beating to the head with a rifle butt.

The other four are in hospital receiving treatment.

Mr Silva's uncle, KK Thilakaratne, told the BBC that the police witnessed the attack but did nothing to intervene.

"Police officers who were there at that time, they could defend this incident but they didn't do that," Mr Thilakaratne said.

"They were very afraid [of] higher authorities," he said.

Violence

The government has accused the JVP of trying to undermine and smear their election campaign by alleging that the attack was carried out with the tacit support of at least one senior minister.

The BBC's Alastair Lawson in Colombo says the attacks have taken place even though President Chandrika Kumaratunga and opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe have called for campaigning to be free and peaceful.

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See also:

22 Aug 00 | South Asia
Fears of violence in Sri Lanka
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