COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A powerful Sinhalese politician and popular actor who was expected to run for president was assassinated at his home today, a day after his political alliance condemned recent killings by radical Sinhalese nationalists.
Senior police officials blamed the outlawed People's Liberation Front, an ultra-nationalist Sinhalese group, for the death of Vijaya Kumaranatunga.
Eight hours later, bombs exploded in temple crowded with Tamil worshipers during celebrations to the Hindu god of destruction, killing five people. Police said two powerful devices placed in the main shrine room of the temple at Wellawatte, five miles south of Colombo, exploded almost simultaneously at 7:50 p.m. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Kumaranatunga, 43, led the Sri Lankan Mahajana (People's) Party and was expected to run as a candidate for president.
The popular film star was killed with a submachine gun while talking to several people in the yard of his home in Polhengoda, four miles east of Colombo. Another man was injured by the gunfire.
Besides condemning radical Sinhalese terrorists, Kumaranatunga was a supporter of the Indian-Sri Lankan peace accord that aims to end the insurgency by separatists from the Tamil minority.