JAFFNA, Sri Lanka - A Tamil candidate for landmark polls in Sri Lanka's former warzone fled a mob attack Friday as the man tipped to become the region's chief minister accused the army of intimidating voters.
Anandi Saseedaran told how dozens of armed men surrounded her house on the eve of the Jaffna region's first ballot for a semi-autonomous council, forcing her to flee with the help of supporters.
One of the leaders of her party, retired judge K. Wigneswaran, said security forces were trying to scare voters away from the ballot box.
"The army is going brazenly in uniform attacking people and saying they must not go to vote," Wigneswaran, 74, told AFP in an interview at the modest office of his Tamil National Alliance in the heart of Jaffna.
Jaffna is the capital of the battle-scarred northern province which is home to over a million Tamils and is also the Hindu cultural centre of Sri Lanka's second largest ethnic group.
"They (the military) do not want us to have a clear-cut majority," Wigneswaran said while accusing the military of launching a pre-dawn attack on the home of Saseedaran.
Wigneswaran said dozens of armed men stormed Saseedaran's home, just outside Jaffna, and wounded at least eight people, including a local election monitor who had rushed to the area on hearing the armed raid. They have been hospitalised.
"My supporters took me to safety when about 70 armed men surrounded my house," Saseedaran told reporters. "They had said they were looking for me and that they wanted to kill me."