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Unidentified gunmen kill 1, wound 13 other workers campaigning for Sri Lankan candidate

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Gunmen opened fire at campaign workers in Sri Lanka's capital on Friday, killing one and wounding 13, police and hospital officials said, in the first major political violence before the parliamentary election.

The workers were campaigning for Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake of the United National Party.

Karunanayake blamed supporters of ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the attack. But an opposition politician in Rajapaksa's party said the shooting was the result of gang warfare. The politician, Dilan Perera, said a gang supporting Karunanayake had been targeted by a rival gang.

PHOTO: A Sri Lankan police officer inspects the site of an attack in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 31, 2015. Unidentified gunmen opened fire at campaign workers in Sri Lanka's capital on Friday in the first major political violence before the parliamentary elections scheduled on Aug. 17. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
A Sri Lankan police officer inspects the site of an attack in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Friday, July 31, 2015. Unidentified gunmen opened fire at campaign workers in Sri Lanka's capital on Friday in the first major political violence before the parliamentary elections scheduled on Aug. 17. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

Karunanayake denied the allegation.

Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara said earlier in the day that unidentified gunmen shot at the campaign workers from a vehicle and fled the scene. He said police investigations are underway to arrest the culprits. He was not available later Friday to comment on the claims of gang fighting.

Colombo National Hospital director Dr. Anil Jasinghe said one woman was brought dead to the hospital and 13 people were being treated for gunshot wounds.

Rajapaksa lost the presidential election in January but is contesting for prime minister in the Aug. 17 parliamentary election. If he wins, he will be a step away from reclaiming the presidency.

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