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Sri Lanka pre-poll clash kills opposition supporter

[BBC, Monday, 18 January 2010 13:02 No Comment]

008507356-1 A supporter of Sri Lanka’s opposition candidate Sarath Fonseka has been killed in a clash ahead of next week’s presidential election, police say.

Opposition activists were attacked in Wariyapola town in the north-west of the country while they were putting up election posters, police said.

The man was killed in a clash with ruling party activists, they said.

The 26 January presidential elections are taking place amid heightened political tension.

Gen Fonseka is the main rival to President Rajapaksa.

He resigned from his post as chief of defence staff in November following differences with the government over who should take credit for defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels last May.

‘Concerned’

Monday’s killing is the third poll-related death in the run-up to the vote.

"One man was killed and several others sustained injuries," news agency AFP quoted a spokesman for the police election secretariat as saying.

Previous elections in Sri Lanka have been marred by violence. Police say they have received reports of nearly 600 incidents of violence connected to the forthcoming election.

President Rajapaksa, who is running for re-election, has ordered a security crackdown, his spokesman Chandrapala Liyanage said.

"The president is deeply concerned about the violence and has already ordered police to make sure that there is tighter security," AFP quoted Mr Liyanage as saying.

"He is also appealing to all parties to ensure there is no violence."

A supporter of Gen Fonseka – 60-year-old Kusuma Kuruppuarachchi – was the first to be killed in the campaign when she was shot in the southern town of Hungama last week.

On Saturday 19-year-old Aruna Saman Kumara, a supporter of the ruling coalition, was killed in a clash with supporters of Gen Fonseka.

The Sri Lankan army defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels last May, ending 26 years of civil war.

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