Wednesday, 31 March 2004  
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TNA candidate shot dead in Batticaloa

by Asanga Warnakulasuriya

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Batticaloa District candidate Rajan Sathyamoorthy was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen yesterday.

His brother-in-law also died in the shooting, which came just two days ahead of the General Election. According to Batticaloa Police, the two gunmen had shot Sathyamoorthy and his brother-in-law at his residence in the heart of Batticaloa. The suspects, who had been chatting with Sathyamoorthy had suddenly opened fire.

They had gunned down the two when trying to flee. The incident occured around 8.00 am. Investigations revealed that the suspects had used a 9mm shot gun for the killing. With the latest killings, the pre-election death toll has risen to four.

All murders were reported from the Batticaloa District. Police said Sathyamoorthy was involved in organising several demonstrations in support of the breakaway LTTE Eastern commander, Karuna. IGP Indra de Silva earlier revealed that security of general election candidates in the North-East is under serious threat with candidates reluctant to seek police protection fearing the wrath of the LTTE.

The IGP said seven candidates in the North-East had considered Police protection as a threat because the LTTE could turn against them if they do so.

During last week, former Minister T. Maheshwaran, UNP Colombo District candidate, was shot and wounded.

The Acting Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture, Eastern University, Dr. T. Thrichelvam was also shot and wounded.

European Union Chief Observer of the Election Observation Mission, John Cushnahan expressed his deep condolences to Sathyamoorthy's family.

"It seems that the forces outside the election process are engaged in a campaign of terror designed to influence and subvert this election," he said.

Meanwhile, the breakaway Eastern Tiger faction accused the LTTE leadership in the Vanni of recent assassination attempts in the East as two more pro-Karuna activists fell victim yesterday in Batticaloa.

"We have information that the Vanni cadres have infiltrated to the East and that they were behind the recent assassination attempts," a spokesman for Karuna told the Daily News.

The spokesman, Varathan said the Vanni based Tigers were behind the killing of Sathyamoorthy, a known Karuna confidante.

He claimed Tiger pistol gangs had carried out last week's shooting of Eastern University Professor Thevanayagam Thiruchelvam and Batticaloa Government Agent V. Monaguruswamy.

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