Assassination Clues Point to Tamil Rebels

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A cyanide capsule found on a suicide bomber’s body and other clues point toward Tamil rebels in the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa, police said Sunday as huge crowds gathered to pay last respects.

Tamil rebels have waged a 10-year secessionist war that has claimed thousands of lives, including several prominent figures killed in suicide bombings. Premadasa and at least 23 others were killed Saturday when a man on a bicycle triggered explosives on his body, turning the route of a May Day parade into a bloody scene.

The president’s death--and the accusation of Tamil involvement--threatened to plunge the island nation deeper into turmoil.


About 100,000 people, some weeping and beating their chests, mourned Premadasa, whose body lay in state at his home. Many waited hours in line.

“The Tamil Tigers are the prime suspect in the assassination,” the nation’s top police official, Lionell Gunatilleke, said Sunday.

Similar Tamil attacks have killed other military officers and politicians, including former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May, 1991.

Gunatilleke said many of the guerrillas carry cyanide capsules and commit suicide when cornered or captured. Gunatilleke said police found a broken cyanide capsule embedded in the neck of Premadasa’s assassin.

Rebels have denied involvement in the attack.