COLOMBO, July 16 (Xinhua) -- A high-ranking government official serving Sri Lanka's restive Eastern Province was shot dead Monday afternoon, police said Monday.
Herath Abeyweera, the chief secretary of the Eastern Provincial Council, was gunned down at around 5:30 p.m. local time (1200 GMT)in the eastern port town of Trincomalee.
Abeyweera, coming from the majority Sinhalese community, was appointed to the position late last year.
Police said he was shot dead in his office by unknown gunmen and they blamed the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the killing.
The assassination came as the government announced plans for a state ceremony on Thursday to mark the liberation of Eastern Province from rebel control.
The ceremony was to outline a 180-day program for the development of the war-battered region hit by over three-decade-old separatist armed conflict.
Claiming discrimination at the hands of the majority ethnic Sinhalese-dominated government, the LTTE has been fighting for an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's 12.5 percent Tamil minority since the 1970s.
About 5,000 people have died in the escalation of the conflict between government troops and the LTTE since the end of 2005.