Unidentified gunmen kill prominent Tamil businessman in Sri Lanka

Unidentified gunmen killed a prominent Tamil businessman and one of his staff members in northern Sri Lanka, police and the military said Thursday, in the latest flare-up of violence in the troubled region

The killings occurred late Wednesday near the town of Vavuniya, said military spokesman Brig. Sudhir Samarasinghe.

He said he had no details about the assailants or their possible motive.

A police official reached by telephone in Vavuniya said police were investigating whether the killings were related to the separatist campaign by ethnic Tamils rebels. The officer identified the main victim as M. Gunaratnam, a Tamil, who ran a fleet of buses and other businesses in the area.

His staff member's identity was not immediately given.

Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas have been known to target fellow Tamils who cooperate with the ethnic Sinhalese-dominated Sri Lankan government, or who back rival Tamil militant groups.

Armed Tamil groups who oppose the mainstream rebels are also known to be active in Vavuniya, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the capital, Colombo, reports the AP.


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