JAFFNA, Sri Lanka — A Tamil guerrilla leader died Saturday after a 12-day fast, sending angry crowds into the streets to protest the refusal of Sri Lanka and India to meet demands presented by his rebel organization.
Police said demonstrators marched through the streets of Jaffna, shouting anti-government slogans and burning buses. They said all shops and businesses closed in a spontaneous general strike across the Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka.
Amirthalingam Thileepan, 23, had refused for 12 days to eat food or drink water. He had been leader of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the most powerful of the Tamil separatist groups.
Two other members of the organization immediately took over the fast, vowing to continue until rebel demands are met.
Thileepan began his fast Sept. 15 to support demands that all Tamil political prisoners be released, that resettlement of the majority Sinhalese in Tamil-dominated areas be stopped, that a Sinhalese civilian militia be disarmed and that police stations remain closed in the mostly Tamil north and east.