Lanka's Tamil lawmaker shot dead at Hindu temple

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Colombo, Jan 1 (UNI) Sri Lanka's Tamil Member of Parliament from the main opposition United National Party (UNP), Thiyagarajah Maheshwaran, was shot dead at a crowded Hindu temple here this morning, military and police sources said.

''UNP MP Maheshwaran was shot dead at Sivan temple premises by unknown gunman this morning,'' Military Spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told UNI over the phone.

The military spokesman said the seriously wounded MP, along with another wounded person in the shooting incident, was rushed to the Colombo national hospital and underwent a surgery at the Intensive Care Unit.

''But both the MP and the other wounded person succumbed to their injuries on admission to the hospital,'' Brig Nanayakkara said.

Hospital sources said nine other people who sustained injuries in the New Year Day shooting incident have also been admitted to the hospital and were undergoing medical treatment.

Police sources said a large number of devotees had gathered at the temple and a nearby Catholic church for New Year services in the Kotahena area of Colombo.

Mr Maheshwaran, formerly the Minister of Hindu Cultural Affairs, under the UNP government of the then-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, has been actively voicing against the recent arrest of hundreds of Tamils in and around the capital city.

The MP, a businessman by profession, was first elected to Parliament in December 2001 from the war-ravaged northern Jaffna district.

In 2005, he survived with serious gun-shot injuries an attempt on his life at an election rally in Colombo.

The UNP has vehemently condemned the gunning down of its only ethnic minority Tamil legislator who went to the temple to attend a New Year service.

UNI XC SKB KP1308

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