Sri Lankan government minister killed amid an upsurge in violence
Following Colombo's withdrawal from a 2002 truce with Tamil rebels, nation-building chief DM Dassanayake was fatally wounded in a roadside bombing.
A Sri Lankan government minister was killed and 10 others wounded in a roadside bomb Tuesday near the Southeast Asian country's capital, Colombo. The attack, which government officials blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels, follows an upsurge in violence since the government pulled out of a 2002 truce agreement with the rebel group last week.Skip to next paragraph
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Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, a military spokesman, said: "We have still not arrested anybody but the suspicion is on the LTTE."
The Tamil Tigers, known formally as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have been blamed for an increase in attacks around Colombo in recent months.
Last Wednesday, suspected rebels exploded a bomb near a bus transporting wounded soldiers through the capital, killing a soldier and three civilians. Soon after, Sri Lanka's cabinet decided to withdraw from a 2002 truce that had all but collapsed over the past two years.
Tuesday's attack, if claimed by the LTTE, will be the first successful assassination of a top political or military target since 2006, when the rebels killed Maj. Gen. Parami Kulatunga, Sri Lanka's third most senior military officer, the Guardian added.
The minister was traveling between Colombo and the island's international airport when the bomb went off, reports the British Broadcasting Corp. "The windows of the vehicle were shattered and photos show the passenger side riddled with holes. Claymore mines are placed above the ground. They can be detonated by remote control and the explosives can be directed. They are frequently used by the Tamil Tigers," the BBC said.
Mr. Dassanayake was "notorious for his alleged underworld links and once attended parliament in handcuffs, having been allowed out of a remand prison to take part in a key debate," reports the Agence France-Presse.
It was not immediately clear if the minister was specifically targeted, or if the attackers may have tried to get a more senior politician using the same highway to travel to the capital, an official involved in the probe said.
"There are lots of theories on the possible target, but what is clear is that it is the work of the Tigers," the official said, asking not to be named.
... On Sunday, security forces also conducted a major search operation in the entire Western province which covers the capital and airport area.
According to police, 28,000 vehicles were searched, 75,000 people questioned and 198 arrested in the region, which is home to 2.2 million people.
LTTE rebels were also blamed by the government for the death of opposition leader T Mahesheran on Jan. 1 at a temple in Colombo, reports Reuters in a timeline of attacks blamed on the rebel group over the last 20 years.