( AFP )- An ethnic Tamil Sri Lankan opposition MP was shot dead by an unidentified gunman while attending a New Year service at a Hindu temple in Colombo, police and hospital officials said Tuesday.
T. Maheswaran , a lawmaker from the United National Party (UNP), died after being admitted to the Colombo National Hospital following the shooting inside the Sivam Temple, hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa said.
"He had several bullet injuries, including to the head," Soysa said.
"Another 12 people who were wounded have been brought for treatment and one of them also died."
Maheswaran , who represents the embattled northern district of Jaffna , has been highly critical of the government's military campaign. He survived a similar attack two years ago.
Police said the gunman was mingling with devotees at the temple and pulled out a revolver and shot Maheswaran at close range.
The attacker dropped his gun and escaped, police said, adding that a large number of devotees had gathered at the temple and a nearby Catholic church for New Year services in the Kothena area of Colombo.
Maheswaran's UNP said the government must take responsibility for the assassination and accused the defence authorities of withdrawing the body guards assigned to protect him.
"The security of Mr. Maheswaran was withdrawn two weeks ago by the government despite repeated appeals that his life was in danger," UNP general secretary Tissa Attanayake said.
"Mr. Maheswaran himself made a statement in parliament saying that the government must take responsibility if something were to happen to him," Attanayake said.