COLOMBO, Feb. 20, Reuter: A grief-stricken fan of an assassinated Sri Lankan movie star turned politician set himself on fire outside the building where his idol’s body lied in state, police said on Saturday.

It said the young man, identified as Amarsingh Jayasinghe, doused his body with petrol and set himself ablaze late on Friday opposite the Colombo art gallery while thousands of mourners watched in disbelief,

Police extinguished the fire and rushed Jayasinghe to hospital where doctors said he was stable though in serious condition.

Earlier on Friday in hysterical scenes sobbing fans surged past attendants to touch the coffin of Vijaya Kumarnatunga, 42, who was shot dead on Tuesday at his home outside Colombo by two gunmen on a motorcycle.

The body of the song and dance star of dozens of films was transferred from his home to the art gallery where it will lie until cremation on Sunday at Colombo’s “Independence Square”, where the island was given freedom from Britain 40 years ago.

Police and Kkumaranatunga’s associates in the people’s party he headed blamed the outlawed Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna for his murder.

This group, made up of majority Sinhalese, was outlawed in 1983 and has been carrying out a violent campaign against last July’s Indo Sri Lanka peace accord, which was aimed at ending five years of minority Tamil separatist violence.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 26, 1988