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Sri Lankan opposition lawmaker shot dead
T V Sriram in Colombo | January 01, 2008 19:19 IST
Former Sri Lankan Minister and Tamilian lawmaker T Maheswaran was on Tuesday shot dead by unidentified assailants at a temple in the heart of Colombo where he had gone to offer prayers on New Year.
Five others were injured in the shooting, he said.
Maheswaran, who was attacked at near Sri Ponnambala Vaneswara Hindu Temple in Kotahena, succumbed to his injuries at the Colombo General Hospital.
Asked if Tamil Tiger rebels could be behind the attack, Ilangakoon said: "At this moment we cannot identify the assailants."
A search operation is on, he added.
Maheswaran, who escaped from the jaws of death during the 2004 general elections when the assailants' bullet went through his cheek, was unlucky this time.
According to preliminary reports, unknown gunmen shot Maheswaran, a former Hindu Affairs Minister who had opposed forced conversions, inside the temple.
Meanwhile, pro-LTTE website Tamilnet on Tuesday claimed that he was about to come out with some revelations next week in Parliament.
EPDP, the paramilitary-cum-political party, is led by Douglas Devananda, a Cabinet minister who recently survived a suicide attack.
Sri Lankan government had some time back reduced the number of security personnel guarding Maheswaran from 18 to two, Tamilnet said.
"He (Maheswaran) had told Shakti TV's popular Minnal programme that he would come up with in-depth details of the terror campaign when Parliament resumes its sittings on January 8," the website said.
Meanwhile, the United National Party condemned killing of Maheswaran and said the government must take responsibility for the murder as it had reduced his security.
Devananda said he condemned the reprehensible act.
"Every one has a right to give his views, Devananda said, adding that it was unfortunate that the New Year had begun with a tragedy."