At least 16 people have been killed and dozens injured in two bomb attacks and rioting in a port town in north-eastern Sri Lanka, police say.
There has been a sharp increase in violence in Trincomalee (Photo: RG Dharmadasa)
Police in Trincomalee enforced a curfew as rioters torched cars and shops after the bomb attack on a market and a mine attack which killed two policemen.
More than 30 people have been killed since Monday in attacks blamed on Tamil rebels - a charge they have denied.
International peace monitors said the situation was getting out of control.
"There is a real danger that the violence that erupted today could spread throughout the country, resulting in more innocent people dying, if the two parties do not act quickly to bring the situation under control," the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission said in a statement.
Peace talks between the government and rebels are due to resume in Switzerland next week.
One bomb ripped through a crowded vegetable market in Trincomalee, leaving bodies scattered on the road.
Fish wholesaler Lahiru Hettige was at a nearby fish market when the bomb exploded.
"We immediately ran outside and there were scenes of chaos in the vegetable market," he told the BBC News website.
"I could see that the dead and injured included young children and women."
In the other attack, a claymore anti-personnel mine exploded as a police vehicle passed just outside Trincomalee, police said.
The army blamed the rebels for the market bomb which it called a "heinous crime". There was no immediate response from the Tamil Tigers.
Police said that 50 people were injured in the rioting in Trincomalee, home to large Tamil and Muslim communities as well as Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese.
Assistant Superintendent Mahendra Serasinghe told Reuters news agency the unrest had been brought under control.
Talks on track
The government says it will go ahead with next week's peace talks despite planned "provocative acts" by the rebels.
A surge in attacks at the turn of the year abated after agreement was secured to hold talks in February, but violence has risen again in recent weeks.
The Tamil Tigers want autonomy for minority Tamils in the north and east of Sri Lanka. More than 60,000 people have died during two decades of conflict.
Are you, or do you know anyone, affected by the blasts?
My brother was in Trinco as a part of ICRC. He told me that blast happened in the market. After that angry mob start to burn the shops belonging to minority Tamils. Also it seems some people were attacked badly by mobs. In Colombo every thing seems normal.
Steve John, Colombo
Here we go again! Both the LTTE and SL government must be blamed to the current situation. I wish it all would stop! Well, those parties (once in red) who were harping on the war will be so happy. Its so stressful working in this country cause every thing is a struggle and every thing is governed by uncertainty.
I have lost my brother and friends. I think government should take immediate action to prevent this ruthless, barbarian terrorist attacks. The LTTE is solely responsible for this attack. They even don't care that Tamil people who dead due to this bomb blast.
Sivalingam, Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
Trincomalee District is a multi ethnic city in Sri Lanka which is very similar to Colombo's ethnic mix. People live in style and unity in Colombo and what's going on in Trinco? Is it the rebellion or terrorism you decide and it's time to act on it! May peace prevail in Sri Lanka for its well deserved people (Tamil Sinhala Muslim or who ever every human)!