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Sri Lanka: Parliament Candidate Shot Dead

Police in Sri Lanka say a Tamil candidate for parliament has been shot dead in a hospital where he was recovering from another attempt on his life.

Authorities say the candidate Sinnathamby Sunderapillai was killed early Monday when two gunmen burst into the hospital in the eastern town of Batticaloa and opened fire. There has been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

This was the first election-related killing since campaigning began in recent weeks for early elections to be held on April 2, although more than 100 incidents of election-related violence have been reported.

The murdered Tamil candidate was receiving treatment for injuries suffered Saturday when gunmen attacked him at his home. That was also the day the human rights group Amnesty International appealed to Tamil Tiger rebels to let other ethnic Tamils campaign without interference.

The victim of today's violence represented the (United National Front) party of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Tamil rebels are backing candidates of the Tamil National Alliance.

Analysts say the Alliance could gain enough seats in the next parliament to have a large say in legislation if expectations of a close election between the two main rival parties come true.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga called for the elections more than three years ahead of schedule. She is in a bitter power struggle with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, whom the president accuses of making too many concessions in peace talks with rebels.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.