COLOMBO: Gunmen in Sri Lanka today opened fire on a bus carrying supporters of the main opposition presidential candidate, killing one political activist, police said.

Several other people were wounded when unidentified attackers sprayed bullets into the vehicle of campaigners backing Sarath Fonseka, who was not in the area at the time, police said.

Sri Lankan elections have been marred in the past by violence but Tuesday’s shooting, near the town of Hungama in the south of the island, was the first fatality in the run-up to the vote.

The US embassy in Colombo said it was “deeply concerned” over the killing and escalating violence in the run-up to the January 26 presidential election.

In a statement it said, “We urge the authorities to conduct a full investigation of this and to

protect those exercising their democratic right to support the candidate of their choice,” the

statement said.