COLOMBO, April 5, 2010 (AFP) - Gunmen shot dead a ruling party activist in Sri Lanka as campaigning for parliamentary elections drew to a close, police said Monday.
In the first killing ahead of Thursday's vote, a member of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was gunned down in the north-western district of Kurunegala on Sunday night.
"Gunmen travelling in a vehicle sprayed bullets into a crowd killing a UPFA supporter," a police official said.
President Mahinda Rajapakse, who leads the UPFA, is widely expected to consolidate his January re-election by gaining a clear majority at the assembly polls.
Rajapakse won with a thumping 58 percent in the presidential vote.
The private Centre for Monitoring Election Violence (CMEV) reported 325 incidents of election-related violence by Saturday. Firearms had been used in 46 of the incidents, it added.
Sri Lanka has placed nearly 20,000 troops on alert to reinforce police as violence escalates ahead of voting for the 225-member national legislature.