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President: Catholic leader assassinated

President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said slain Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle had been a leader of Catholic and Christian communities of Sri Lanka. In his condolence message, the President said Fernandopulle had played an important role in bringing about greater understanding among the different communities.

The President urged the people to be calm in the face of what he called extreme provocation by the forces of terror while reiterating his commitment to eradicate terrorism

The following is the President’s statement: "I emphatically and unequivocally condemn the assassination of Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Minsiter of Highways and Road Construction and Chief Government Whip by the LTTE.

Our thoughts first go to the family of Fernandopulle and to the families of all others who were killed and injured in this act of savagery, whose grief we share with them.

He was a popular representative of the people, elected by the voters of Gampaha District at several elections. The assassination of such a committed democrat once again shows the total contempt of the LTTE to the democratic process, and its commitment to violence and terror to achieve its narrow and limited objectives.

The LTTE has chosen as its target a leader of the Catholic and Christian communities of Sri Lanka, who played an important role in bringing about greater understanding among the different communities of our country."

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