5TH LEAD

Jeyaraj Fernandopulle killed in bomb blast

[TamilNet, Sunday, 06 April 2008, 03:14 GMT]
Sri Lanka's Minister of Highways & Road Development, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, was killed in a bomb blast at the public playground in Weliweraya, located in the Gampaha district of Western Province, around 8:00 a.m. Sunday. 13 persons were killed and 60 wounded in the attack that took place while the minister was waving a flag to start off a marathon race in connection with the Tamil and Sinhala New Year celebrations. 16 of the wounded have sustained serious injuries, Police said.

Jeyaraj Fernandopulle
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle
An athletic coach attached to the sports ministry, Luxman de Alvis and a Olympic marathon runner K. A. Karunaratne, who was formerly attached to Sri Lanka Army, were killed in the blast, according to initial reports. A police SSP was among the seriously wounded.

The 55-year-old minister, who is also the chief government whip of the Sri Lankan parliament, has been elected to Sri Lankan parliament for five consecutive terms.

3 days ago, Mr. Fernandopulle led the ruling UPFA delegation in Trincomalee to field candidates for the upcoming Eastern Provincial Elections in which he had curtailed the number of nominees of paramilitary-cum-political party TMVP, from five to two, for the Trincomalee district.

Jeyaraj Fernandopulle killed in bomb blast
[Photo: AP]
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle killed in bomb blast
Rajapaksa with Fernandopulle
Jeyaraj Fernandopulle [R] with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [L]
He was a close associate of the Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa and played a key role in strengthening Sri Lanka's relationship with Iran since 2006, when he was the minister of trade, commerce, consumer affairs and marketing development.

He was fluent in Sinhala, English and Tamil languages and functioned as a propaganda spokesman for the UPFA government.

Police claimed that the blast was caused by a suicide attacker, charging that the LTTE was behind the attack.

Sportsman Karunatne, a victim of the attack, participated in the Olympic marathon in 1992 and in the 1993 World Championship. He has a gold medal in the marathon and 10,000 metres in the South Asian Games held in 1991.


Chronology:


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