A Tamil Tiger suicide bomber kills eight in a blast at a guard post near the Sri Lankan capital.
Troops killed in Sri Lanka blast
SRI LANKA // A Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed seven security personnel and a civilian at a base just outside Sri Lanka's capital today as troops mounted pressure on the rebels in the north, officials said. The male bomber infiltrated the base of the Civil Defence Force near a market in Wattala, a suburb of the capital Colombo, a police official at the scene said. "The suicide bomber managed to get through the first checkpoint and stage the bombing inside the CDF detachment," the officer said. "An officer and four men were killed on the spot." Twenty people were taken to hospital, of whom three were dead on arrival. The military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said military reinforcements were rushed to the area to step up security and help with the investigations. It was the first attack near the capital since the Tigers were blamed for an abortive bombing against a government minister in early October when two bystanders were killed. On Oct 22, the rebels used boats packed with explosives and manned by suicide bombers to target two merchant ships off the island's northern coast. Suicide bombings are a Tiger trademark. The bombing came as the guerrillas faced a Sri Lankan military onslaught against their stronghold in the north of the island, their political capital of Kilinochchi. Military officials said the air force carried out two bombing sorties against the Tigers near Kilinochchi on Sunday morning. There was no comment from the Tigers about the suicide bombing but the pro-rebel Tamilnet website quoted the Tigers as saying they had killed at least 65 soldiers and wounded 120 in the north of the island yesterday. "The LTTE officials said they seized more than 15 rifles and recovered 16 Sri Lanka army dead bodies in the clearing mission that followed," yesterday, the Tamilnet said. The rebels did not say if they suffered any casualties. The Tigers said 50 soldiers were killed at Alampil while another 15 were killed at Uduppukulam in the district of Mullaittivu. Separately, the Sri Lankan navy said it had sunk a Tamil Tiger boat carrying an arms shipment together with four guerrillas off the island's northern coast today. The defence ministry said naval craft detected the boat off the coast of Point Pedro just after midnight and destroyed it. The military has accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of smuggling in weapons from abroad. "Four LTTE Sea Tiger cadres were also reported to have been killed due to the fierce naval fire directed at the enemy (today)," the ministry said. Last week, Sri Lanka's navy said it had destroyed a Tamil Tiger vessel carrying arms and other supplies. The navy had previously announced that it had sunk virtually the entire fleet of arms-carrying ships belonging to the Tiger guerrillas, who were known to operate a lucrative shipping business through front organisations. The rebels have been fighting since 1972 for a state for ethnic minority Tamils separate from the majority Sinhalese community. * AFP