Bomb attack hits Sri Lanka challenger's backer

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The Independent Online

Just days ahead of a crucial election in Sri Lanka, the home of a financier supporting the main opposition candidate was attacked with a bomb in the latest incident of pre-poll violence.

Tiran Alles, a wealthy businessman who split from the current president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, and threw his support behind the main challenger, said that while his car was destroyed and his home badly damaged, no-one was hurt in the attack.

“There was an explosion at my house. Somebody threw a bomb, and part of my house was burned and my car is in ashes,” the businessman told reporters.

The attack came just days after UN boss Ban ki-Moon appealed for calm ahead of next week’s presidential election in which Mr Rajapaksa is being challenged by former army chief Sarath Fonseka.

Following several incidents of violence, among them the killing of four political activists, the UN Secretary General urged all the political parties and their supporters “to show restraint and refrain from violence, to adhere to the electoral laws and rules, and to avoid provocative acts throughout the election period and its aftermath”.

Today a spokesman for Mr Fonseka, who is the candidate of a coalition of opposition parties, claimed the attack on Mr Alles’ house in Colombo had been carried out by Mr Rajapaksa’s ruling party after the opposition campaign released a photograph of the president’s eldest son, Namal, with a Tamil rebel leader at a nightclub in London.

“Since the photograph showed some sort of a link between the president's family and the Tamil Tigers, Alles had been receiving death threats,’ the spokesman told the Agence France-Presse. “Even yesterday, we complained that he could be targeted.”