06/15/2006, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Attack north of Colombo kills 64

Bus with civilians is hit by blast. In addition to the dead, 45 people are seriously injured. No one has claimed responsibility but for the army there are no doubts that Tamil Tiger rebels are to blame. It bombs rebel positions in retaliation.

Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At least 64 people have been killed and 45 injured in an explosion that tore through a bus in the central district of Anuradhapura, 200 km (125 miles) north of Colombo. The Sri Lankan army, which has accused the Tamil Tigers of the incident, responded with artillery strikes against rebel positions in Sampur, in Trincomalee district. Military sources who announced the retaliation were not able to say whether its action caused any casualties.

According to the incident's reconstruction, the bus packed with civilians swerved for unknown reasons and after 25 metres without control was hit by a mine that blew it up.

For now no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but in previous occasions similar incidents were blamed on the Tamil Tigers rebel group.

For an anonymous military source, "there are no doubts the rebels are behind this act; it is part of their classic modus operandi". The same source added that "it was the worst act of violence since the 2002 ceasefire."

Defence Ministry spokesperson Prasad Samarasinghe said that children, teenagers, women and monks were on the bus.

There seem to be no end in sight to the wave of violence that is shaking Sri Lanka. Peace negotiations between rebels and government are getting harder to manage after Norway announced, following the failure of the May 8 talks, that it was reconsidering its role as mediator.

The conflict between the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil rebels in the country' north-east has killed some 60,000 people since it broke out in 1983.

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