A Tamil Tiger suicide bomber targeted a refugee camp for civilians fleeing Sri Lanka's war zone, millitary officials said on Monday. The blast killed several soldiers and injured at least 45 people.
AFP - A female Tamil Tiger suicide bomber detonated on Monday at a camp for civilians who have fled Sri Lanka's ethnic war, killing 28 people, the military said, as the rebels faced imminent defeat.
The bomber triggered her explosives as she was being searched by soldiers outside the camp near Visuamadu, a northern area the military recently captured from the rebels, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
"Twenty soldiers, including three women soldiers were killed," he said. "Another eight civilians were killed and 40 civilians were wounded." Dozens of injured troops were also rushed to hospital.
Nanayakkara blamed the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels, whose decades-long armed campaign for an independent homeland has recently suffered huge territorial losses during a major army offensive.
"This attack is aimed at slowing down the army's advance," Nanayakkara told reporters here.
The Tamil Tigers have launched scores of suicide attacks in the past, and in October last year an attacker killed 27 people in a blast inside offices of the main Sri Lanka opposition party.
The latest blast came as thousands of Tamil civilians pour out of the small northern jungle area still under control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), with 22,000 escaping in the last five days, the government says.
Colombo says as many as 100,000 people are still being held by the Tigers as "human shields."
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been trying to bring hundreds of wounded people out of the area.
"We are talking to both parties to the conflict to secure a safe passage by sea to evacuate about 400 patients," ICRC spokeswoman Sophie Romanens said on Monday.
The wounded, their families and about 20 Red Cross workers moved deep inside rebel-controlled Puttumatalan last week to avoid getting caught in the crossfire.
President Mahinda Rajapakse at the weekend warned the remaining rebels to surrender or face death as government forces closed in.
"I want to tell the Tigers: 'Lay down arms and surrender to security forces,'" he told a rally of cheering supporters.
"They must let the civilians go and then unconditionally give themselves up.
"I must warn them we will not halt our operations against terrorism until we reach our final objective."
With government forces pressing forward, the military said the area under rebel control had shrunk to less than 100 square kilometres (38 square miles).
In the latest military assault, Sri Lankan war planes bombed a suspected jungle hideout where Tiger rebels had a fleet of boats.
Sri Lanka's military says it is in the final stages of a two-year-long offensive to defeat the Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting since 1972.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has led international calls for a "temporary no-fire period" to allow more civilians to evacuate the combat zone.
Date created : 2009-02-09