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The BBC's Mike Wooldridge
"It was to be a day of honouring the dead"
 real 28k

Amal Jayasingha reports from Colombo
The minister was collecting donations for the army
 real 28k

Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Bomb kills Sri Lankan minister
Police search a man after the bomb blast
Police have cordoned off the blast site
A senior Sri Lankan government minister has been assassinated by a suicide bomber in the capital, Colombo.

Industry Minister CV Gooneratne and 20 others died in the attack which took place during celebrations honouring the country's war heroes.



I heard a huge explosion and then saw parts of bodies flying around

Eyewitness KG Karunadasa
The military is battling a Tamil Tiger rebel onslaught in the northern Jaffna peninsula.

Dozens of people have been wounded in the attack - including the minister's wife.

Suicide attack

The police have blamed the attack on the Tamil Tiger separatists, who have frequently used suicide bombers in the capital.

Tiger targets
1991
Former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi killed
1993
Sri Lankan President Premadasa killed
1994
Sri Lankan opposition leader Dissayanaka killed
1999
Sri Lankan President Kumaratunga wounded
2000
Industry Minister Gooneratne killed
The minister was attacked as he was collecting donations for the army in his constituency in Colombo.

One eyewitness said he saw a man approach the minister as he walked in a parade in front of a big crowd.

He then embraced him before setting off the bomb.

"I heard a huge explosion and then saw parts of bodies flying around. I can't remember what happened immediately after that," said another bystander, KG Karunadasa.

A BBC correspondent says questions have been raised about a possible breach of security, which allowed the bomber to approach the minister.

CV Goonaratne before the attack
Mr Goonaratne had been collecting funds
All ministers have now been asked by ministers to stay away from public gatherings to prevent any further attacks.

Heavy security is in place in Colombo, with road blocks set up and police checking vehicles and pedestrians.

Navy gunboats are reported to have been deployed to check a possible attack from the sea.

Homage

The bombing came after a special ceremony led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga to show support for troops fighting the Tamil Tiger separatists.

The government designated the ceremonies part of "War Heroes Day".

President Kumaratunga at War Heroes Day ceremonies
The president thanked soldiers' families
Two minutes silence was observed for the event with shops and offices stopping work.

Temple and church bells were rung as part of the ceremonies.

President Kumaratunga made an address thanking the families of soldiers who had died in the fighting.

"Let us bow our heads in homage to those who are making the supreme sacrifice, so that you and I may live in comfort and peace," she said.

She also said she believed there could be no military solution to the long-running conflict with the Tamil Tigers.

"I wish to reiterate that our cherished dream of peace can be achieved only through a political solution of giving space for every citizen of this country to live in dignity and harmony," she said.

Government forces have been fighting to stop Tamil Tiger taking the key northern town of Jaffna after the rebels launched an offensive in April.

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See also:

06 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka probes naval loss
01 Jun 00 | South Asia
New weapons boost Sri Lankan army
31 May 00 | South Asia
Tiger onslaught 'beaten back'
31 May 00 | South Asia
Taking refuge in Tamil Nadu
07 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's deadly bombers
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