Two Tamils were killed by unidentified gunmen in separate incidents in Sri Lanka's north in fresh attacks on Friday that came after the assassination of a prominent Tamil politician, the rebels and the military said yesterday.
Kanthaiah Sivanesan, 48, was killed in northern Jaffna on Friday, the pro-rebel Web site TamilNet said.
In a separate incident, police recovered the body of Karunamalam Prabhakaran, 32, with bullet wounds in Vavuniya, also on Friday, the Defense Ministry said on its Web site.
The two deaths came after the assassination on Friday of Nadaraja Raviraj, a member of the Tamil National Alliance, as he left his house in Colombo. His bodyguard was also killed, said K. Sivajilingam, a fellow member of parliament.
President Mahinda Rajapakse condemned the killing, calling it a "heinous act" by "those opposed to dissent and political pluralism in a democratic society."
But the Tamil party blamed the government for the killing.
"We understand that a whole magazine has been emptied into them in broad daylight," TNA lawmaker Suresh Premachandran said. "This is a clear message to Tamil parliamentarians ... `Don't open your mouth.'"
Tamil Tiger rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran honored the slain lawmaker with the title "Great Human Being," which is awarded posthumously to those who support the rebels' cause.
"A great soul who carried the ideal of the liberation of our homeland as a burning flame in his heart has been made a victim of the Sinhala oppression," Prabhakaran said yesterday in a statement posted on the rebel Web site.
"Along this path he wholeheartedly accepted the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam and their goals and served the nation," Prabhakaran said.
Sinhalese constitute Sri Lanka's ethnic majority and dominate the government and the armed forces. The Tamils are in minority and rebels say they are fighting for an independent Tamil homeland.
Raviraj, who also worked as a lawyer and was going to court when he was attacked, died after being admitted to the National Hospital, hospital director Anil Jasinghe said.
Raviraj became mayor of Jaffna, the Tamil heartland, in 1999 following the assassination of his two predecessors. He was elected to Parliament as a rebel-backed representative in 2001 and 2004 and was a leading campaigner for Tamil self rule.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan deplored the many civilian deaths amid ongoing violence between the military and Tamil Tigers.
At the UN, a spokesman said Annan is "increasingly concerned" about the growing violence in Sri Lanka and "deplores the many civilian casualties caused by the hostilities between Government forces and the Tigers."
Annan appealed to the parties involved in the conflict to "bring an end to the spiral of violence" and called on them "to make every effort to return to the peace process as soon as possible," the spokesman said on Friday.