Top Tamil academic shot dead in eastern Sri Lanka
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: A top Tamil academic was shot dead Monday by unidentified assailants amid escalating violence in eastern Sri Lanka, military officials said.
Kumaravel Thambiah, 46 was killed in his home in Batticaloa, they said on condition of anonymity, citing a preliminary investigation.
He worked as a lecturer at Eastern University of Sri Lanka.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But military officials said Thambiah was a supporter of the powerful Tamil Tiger renegade leader, Vonayagamoorthy Muralitharan.
Sri Lanka's east has been a hotbed since the Tamil Tigers' main rebel group crushed a 6,000-strong factional revolt led by Muralitharan last month, killing more than 30 guerrillas and several civilians.
Muralitharan's whereabouts remain unknown, although there is speculation his supporters are still active in the area.
Batticaloa town is 220 kilometers (136 miles) east of the capital Colombo. It is under government control, but the Tigers operate in surrounding areas where defense lines are very fluid.
There have been several deadly attacks in the past month.
European cease-fire monitors of a two-year truce between the government and rebels have warned the slayings could threaten the fragile cease-fire and the peace process - aimed at ending the 19-year conflict that has killed nearly 65,000 people. - AP