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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Girl killed in suicide attack
Sri Lanka map
By Alastair Lawson in Colombo

A nine-year-old girl was killed and three soldiers seriously injured when a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber attacked an army van in Sri Lanka.

The incident took place in Vavuniya, 260 km (160 miles) north of the capital Colombo.

The authorities said it was the first time that a Tamil suicide bomber had targeted Vavuniya, which is close to the areas controlled by the rebels.

President Kumaratunga with a portrait of CV Goonaratne
Minister CV Goonaratne was killed in a similar attack in June
The army said that the van was fetching an army officer when it was attacked.

As the officer was getting into the van, the bomber jumped onto the vehicle's bonnet and detonated an explosive device strapped around his chest.

The bomber was instantly killed, along with the young girl, who was standing near the van.

Vavuniya is a predominantly Tamil town, quite close to what the army refers to as "uncleared areas", which are parts of Sri Lanka that are controlled by the rebels.

The attack in Vavuniya is the first land suicide attack in Sri Lanka since Industry Minister CV Goonaratne was killed in June along with 20 others in Colombo.

Skirmishes

Fighting between the army and the Tigers has been on a relatively small scale since the rebels captured the only entrance to the northern Jaffna peninsula earlier this year.

In June, the army stalled their offensive and since then the two sides have indulged in regular skirmishes.

In the most recent of these, the Ministry of Information says the Sri Lankan airforce has over the past few days bombed Tamil Tiger positions in Columbuthurai in the southern part of the Jaffna peninsula and in the nearby area of Chalai.

Unconfirmed reports say at least four rebels were killed.

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See also:

14 Jun 00 | South Asia
Suicide bomb in Sri Lanka
07 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bomb kills Sri Lankan minister
07 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's deadly bombers
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