Sri Lanka’s Tamil Tigers killed 17 people in two bomb attacks in the capital Colombo today, the military said, a day after the group’s leader vowed the rebels would fight on for independence.
A woman suicide bomber killed a minority Tamil minister’s aide in an attack on his office early today. Hours later, a parcel bomb exploded near a shopping centre in a Colombo suburb, the latest in a series of attacks amid renewed civil war.
"There are 16 dead bodies in the hospital and 37 people wounded," said military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, referring to the second attack. "Both attacks were by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)."
Local TV channels showed residents in the suburb of Nugegoda removing the dead and body parts from the scene. Fire engines rushed to the scene to bring an ensuing blaze under control, a Reuters witness said.
In the first attack, a female suicide bomber blew herself up near the office of Douglas Devananda, minister for social welfare and a former militant who vocally opposes the rebels, killing his personal secretary.
He once fought alongside the Tigers before turning to politics in the 1980s and has escaped several assassination bids by the rebels. The LTTE were not immediately available for comment on either attack.
Wednesday’s blasts came a day after Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran made an annual address in which he accused the international community of pandering to the government and said he had no hope of a political settlement with the state to end the civil war.
There have been near daily land and sea battles, bombings and air raids in recent months, and more than 5,000 people have been killed in fighting between the military and the rebels since early 2006 alone.
That takes the death toll since the war erupted in 1983 to around 70,000, and analysts say the war is likely to grind on for years.