Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

1993 A young suicide bomber killed Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa and at least 17 other people in a huge explosion at a May Day rally in central Colombo. Police said the bomb exploded seconds after Premadasa’s police bodyguards stopped a man on a bicycle. A man’s body found at the scene had wires attached to his clothing. Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga was appointed acting president. Under the constitution, he must summon Parliament within a month. It will elect a new president by secret ballot to serve until Premadasa’s term would have expired in December 1994. The bomber struck during a rally organised by the ruling United National Party. Premadasa, 68, was at Armour Street directing the rally moments before the blast. The smell of burning flesh filled the air as dazed onlookers wandered around. Metal police badges and torn posters of Premadasa littered the ground. Battered May Day banners trailed from lampposts.

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