One killed in Sri Lanka poll attack: police

(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 12, 2010 (AFP) – Gunmen in Sri Lanka on Tuesday opened fire on a bus carrying supporters of the main opposition presidential candidate, killing one political activist, police said. Several other people were wounded when unidentified attackers sprayed bullets into the vehicle of campaigners backing Sarath Fonseka, who was not in the area at the time, police said.

“One person was killed instantly, another opposition supporter was hospitalised and several others had minor injuries,” a local police officer, who declined to be named, told AFP by telephone.

Sri Lankan elections have been marred in the past by violence but Tuesday’s shooting, near the town of Hungama in the south of the island, was the first fatality in the run-up to the vote.

The US embassy in Colombo said it was “deeply concerned” over the killing and escalating violence in the run-up to the January 26 presidential election and urged the authorities to ensure a free and fair poll.

In a statement it said it hoped the “election is conducted freely, fairly and without violence.”

“We urge the appropriate authorities to conduct a full investigation of this and other acts of violence and to protect th