COLOMBO - The youngest brother of Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena died in hospital Saturday after being attacked by an axe wielding acquaintance two days earlier, police said. Priyantha Sirisena, 42, suffered severe head injuries in his hometown of Polonnaruwa, 215 kilometres (134 miles) north-east of the capital Colombo, police said. The local businessman’s death came as the President was in China on a state visit.

The President’s office said he had completed his visit and was due to return on Sunday as previously arranged and would be back in the country in time for Monday’s funeral. ‘A personal dispute between the president’s brother and a person known to him ended in tragedy,’ an official at the president’s office told AFP. ‘We have no reason to suspect anything other than that.’

Sirisena ended a three-day official visit to China on Friday and stayed on to address the Boao Forum on Saturday, officials said. Police said they arrested a man in connection with the attack and an investigation was underway. No further details were given. The government in a statement said Priyantha, a father of three, was ‘attacked during an altercation with a friend’ on Thursday evening.  Official sources said Priyantha Sirisena was the youngest in a family of 12 children. He was flown to the capital for emergency treatment, but his head injuries were so severe that, despite a four-hour surgery, he did not recover, doctors said. Sirisena came to power following bitterly fought January presidential elections. Unlike most former Sri Lankan leaders, President Sirisena has not extended personal security for his siblings and extended family and is known to have drastically scaled down his own protection unit.