Bomb attack in Sri Lanka capital ahead of vote

(From left) Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director - Payments and Settlements, Central Bank; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank

January 22, 2010 (AFP) – A key opposition activist in Sri Lanka was targeted at home by a bomb early Friday, police said, despite tighter security ahead of next week’s presidential election. Ban urged all Sri Lanka parties and their supporters “to show restraint and refrain from violence, to adhere to the electoral laws and rules, and to avoid provocative acts throughout the election period and its aftermath.”

The independent Election Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake was quoted as saying Wednesday that he had stopped giving directives to the police and public officials who disregarded his orders aimed at ensuring a free and fair vote.

Rajapakse called next Tuesday’s vote two years ahead of schedule in a bid to cash in on the government’s defeat of the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels after decades of ethnic warfare on the island.

But he faces a surprise rival to power in Fonseka, the former general who led the troops to victory in May. The blast destroyed a car and severely damaged the home of Tiran Alles, a key ally of presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka, police said, adding that he and his family had escaped unhurt.

“The attackers are believed to have come in a van and