November 16, 2019 9:59:46 am
Ahead of the presidential polls in Sri Lanka Saturday, gunmen opened fire at a convoy of more than 100 buses carrying Mulsim voters in Anuradhapura. The voters, traveling from Puttalam to Mannar, escaped unhurt while a few buses were damaged.
According to a report in news agency AFP, attackers had burnt tires on the road and set up makeshift roadblocks to ambush the convoy. “The gunmen opened fire and also pelted stones. At least two buses were hit, but we have no reports of casualties,” a police official was quoted as saying by the agency.
The elections come seven months after the deadly Easter Sunday bombings left more than 250 people dead in the country. Muslims, who make up nearly 10 per cent of Sri Lanka’s 22 million population, say they have faced hostility ever since the April attacks.
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Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils and Muslims are seen as crucial to deciding a winner in a close contest between the two front runners — Sajith Premadasa of the ruling UNP and the opposition’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Over 15 million Sri Lankans will head to polls today and pick one of 35 candidates — the longest-ever ballot paper in the country. The results are expected by Monday.
According to about a dozen Tamil voters who spoke to The Indian Express on the eve of polling, the situation has changed in the last five years of the Sirisena regime. There is voter unhappiness against the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a party that represents Tamils, and there have been calls to boycott elections.