A suspected asylum seeker about to board a fishing trawler, to go to Australia was shot dead by the army at Valachchenai in Batticaloa on Friday evening, Police said.
They said he was among 40 others who were trying to leave the country on Friday. But as the Army approached them they tried to escape. However, one was shot dead and another arrested while the others got away.
The army had been tipped off about the presence of a gathering on the beach and had gone to the area to investigate.
Police spokesman I.M. Karunaratna said the army recovered 29 life jackets, two cylinders of cooking gas, large quantity of dry rations and water.
The incident came as another boatload of Sri Lankans were picked up by the Australian coast guards near Christmas Island. There were 54 on board and a majority of them were believed to be Sri Lankans.