Sri Lankan president's brother dies after axe attack

Sri Lankan president's brother dies after axe attack
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

COLOMBO - The youngest brother of Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena died in hospital Saturday after being attacked by a man wielding an axe two days earlier, police said.

Priyantha Sirisena, a father of three, suffered severe head injuries in his hometown of Polonnaruwa, 215 kilometres (134 miles) north-east of the capital Colombo, police said.

The local businessman's death came as the President was in China on a state visit.

Police said they arrested a man in connection with the attack and an investigation was underway.

The government in a statement said he was "attacked during an altercation with a friend" on Thursday evening.

Police had initially given the victim's age as 40, but the government statement said he was 42.

Official sources said Priyantha Sirisena was the youngest in a family of 12 children.

The president's brother was flown to the capital for emergency treatment, but his head injuries were so severe that, despite surgery, he did not recover, doctors said.

Sirisena came to power following bitterly fought January presidential elections.

Unlike most former Sri Lankan leaders, President Sirisena has not extended personal security for his siblings and is known to have drastically scaled down his own protection unit.

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