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The BBC's Susannah Price in Colombo
"Most of the casualties were civilians"
 real 28k

The BBC's Marcus Cheek reports
The attack is inevitably being blamed on separatist rebels
 real 28k

Thursday, 27 January, 2000, 10:55 GMT
Sri Lanka bomb kills 11

A powerful bomb has ripped through the main post office in the northern Sri Lankan town of Vavuniya.

Conflict in Sri Lanka
  • An unwinnable war?
  • Timeline of conflict
  • Leading the Tigers
  • The ethnic divide
  • At least 11 people were killed and about 70 injured in the blast.

    The attack comes as a Norwegian delegation is in Sri Lanka to try to broker peace talks between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.

    The Tigers are fighting for an independent homeland in northern Sri Lanka and have been blamed for a number of recent attacks, including an assassination attempt on President Chandrika Kumaratunga

    Officials said the parcel bomb went off inside Vavuniya post office - which is opposite a police station - totally destroying it.

    The attackers knew that the soldiers would come today to send money [home].
    Brigadier Palitha Fernando
    Defence Ministry spokesman
    The defence ministry said that 12 soldiers and seven police officers were among the injured.

    A number of security personnel, who had just been paid, were in the post office to send money orders home to their families.

    However, most of the casualties were civilians.

    The BBC's Susannah Price in Colombo says the bomb appears to have been timed to cause maximum casualties among the security forces.

    Defence Ministry spokesman Brigadier Palitha Fernando said: "The bomb was placed in the letter box meant for the outgoing foreign mail.

    "The attackers knew that the soldiers would come today to send the money."

    He pinned blame for the blast on the Tamil Tigers.

    Tight security

    Vavuniya is a government-controlled frontier town lying 220km (135 miles) northeast of the capital, Colombo, and is home to a large military base.

    It is only 20km from the area controlled by the Tamil Tiger guerrillas.

    Recent attacks
    18 Dec: Assassination attempt on President Chandrika Kumaratunga
    5 Jan: Explosion outside Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike's office
    15 Jan: Nine Sri Lankan soldiers killed south of Vavuniya
    The bombing came despite tight security throughout the country.

    The Tigers have stepped up their activities recently in and around Colombo, killing more than 50 people in suicide bomb explosions.

    Late last year, they captured a huge swathe of territory just north of Vavuniya and there were fears the town itself could come under attack.

    More than 55,000 people have been killed since fighting began in 1983.

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    See also:
    26 Jan 00 |  South Asia
    Norway in Sri Lanka peace effort
    30 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Sri Lankan president partially blinded
    18 Dec 99 |  South Asia
    Analysis: Fifteen years of bloodshed
    05 Jan 00 |  South Asia
    Sri Lankan suicide bomb kills 13
    11 Aug 99 |  South Asia
    Sri Lanka: Searching for a solution
    23 Oct 99 |  South Asia
    Sri Lankan president vows peace

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