Sri Lanka cremates assassinated minister

 

Sri Lanka cremated its assassinated foreign minister at a state funeral today.

Thousands paid their last respects to Lakshman Kadirgamar, whose assassination sent the country's protracted peace process into its worst crisis since a 2002 ceasefire saw 20 years of fighting for Tamil self-rule end.

Sugandi Kadirgamar (L), wife of slain Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, pays her last respects around the pyre during a state funeral in Colombo today
Sugandi Kadirgamar (L), wife of slain Sri Lankan foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, pays her last respects around the pyre during a state funeral in Colombo today

The killing resurrected the spectre of a return to civil war after President Chandrika Kumaratunga blamed the murder on Tamil Tiger rebels.

Foreign dignitaries and Buddhist monks in saffron robes were among the long line of people who filed past Mr Kadirgamar's open coffin at his official residence in Colombo's diplomatic quarter, before gathering for the funeral in Independence Square.

Hundreds of people followed a bier carrying Mr Kadirgamar's coffin draped in the yellow, orange, green and maroon flag of Sri Lanka.

White plumes of smoke rose as Mr Kadirgamar's son and nephew lit the pyre with torches while the crowd looked solemnly on.

Mr Kadirgamar was shot four times by snipers as he emerged from his swimming pool on Friday night.