Lanka ruling party MP’s death during violence not a suicide: police

Amarakeerthi Athukorala, a Member of Parliament in former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) administration died on Monday in the country's Western town of Nittambuwa after a clash with an angry mob.
Lanka ruling party MP’s death during violence not a suicide: police
Paramilitary police personnel arrive at the site as demonstrators and government supporters clash outside the President's office in ColomboAFP (File photo)

COLOMBO: A former Sri Lankan ruling party legislator who died in a violent clash in the western town of Nittambuwa was beaten to death by a mob and it was not a suicide as reported earlier, police said on Friday.

Amarakeerthi Athukorala, a Member of Parliament in former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) administration died on Monday in the country's Western town of Nittambuwa after a clash with an angry mob.

Earlier it was claimed that the 57-year legislator from Sri Lanka's North Central district of Polonnaruwa committed suicide by shooting himself after he opened fire at two members of the group which had surrounded his vehicle on Monday.

"The MP who was killed was actually murdered," Police Spokesman Nihal Thalduwa was quoted as saying by the EconomyNext newspaper on Friday.

"He was not shot at. He was murdered by the protesters. He was killed by beating. He was escaping, but he got caught and was beaten to death. It was not a suicide," Thalduwa said.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has ordered an investigation into the violent clashes that killed at least nine people, including Athukorala, while nearly 300 were injured.

The clashes started after supporters of the then prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa attacked unarmed and peaceful protesters with iron rods and wooden poles near Rajapaksa's official residence and the presidential secretariat in Colombo on Monday. Rajapaksa resigned soon after the attack.

Rajapaksa supporters' brutal attack came after a meeting with him and his political allies who were mostly legislators.

On Thursday, a court-imposed travel ban on Mahinda Rajapaksa, his son and former Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, and several former ministers.

Rajapaksa escaped a mob attack when thousands of protesters surrounded his official residence late on Monday to express their anger. He and his family were evacuated by the military early Tuesday and the defense secretary has said the former prime minister is being kept in the eastern naval base of Trincomalee for his protection.

After the Monday attack, anti-government protesters also burnt and damaged hundreds of houses and vehicles mostly owned by SLPP parliamentarians across the country. Even the ancestral home of the Rajapakasas was attacked.

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