Sri Lanka bombings follow government strikes
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The Sri Lankan government is seeking to defeat the separatist LTTE, or Tamil Tigers, after the government abandoned a six-year truce in January. In response to attacks on its forces in its northern stronghold, the LTTE has increasingly deployed bombers targeting civilians in and around Colombo, the capital, including a bus bombing and a mine attack on a commuter train earlier this month.
Monday's attack in the northern town of Vavuniya killed 12 police officers and injured dozens more, Bloomberg reports. The military said the presumed LTTE bomber was riding a motorbike and detonated his explosives outside the police station as the officers were changing duty.
The bombing followed a weekend of government strikes against LTTE targets that the military said had left a total of 24 people dead, including five security personnel. Agence France-Presse reported Sunday that warplanes destroyed a LTTE logistics center in northeast Mullaitivu district. The target was described in a military statement as a "logistics base and combat vehicle conversion plant."
The latest deaths raise the number of rebels killed by security forces to 4,241 since January, according to the defence ministry, which says 374 soldiers have died in combat during the same period.
The authorities do not allow media and rights groups to travel to the front lines, making it impossible to independently verify the figures.
Sri Lanka has poured a record 1.5 billion dollars into the war effort this year, hoping for a quick end to the conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead.
Tamilnet, a pro-LTTE website, gave a different account of Sunday's air strike. It said four civilians had died after planes strafed their refugee camp in an air attack that also damaged a local college, temples, and an education office. Ten other civilians were injured by the attack, it said, without mentioning the LTTE logistics center that the military claimed to have destroyed.
In an analysis, Asia Times Online says that the Tamil Tigers are trying to weaken support among the majority Sinhalese population for the government's military offensive in the north by stepping up terrorist attacks on civilians. It quotes an unnamed Sri Lanka analyst as saying that the LTTE believes that public support may drop to the point where the government goes back to the negotiating table, easing the military pressure on the rebels.
At the same time, the government has been leaning on Sri Lankan journalists to fall in line behind the war and punishing those who disobey. Reporters have been abducted and subjected to official and unofficial intimidation. The Defense Ministry has accused reporters who direct "baseless accusations" against the military of "treachery."