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1987: Tamil Tigers blamed for bus garage blast

More than 100 people have been killed after a bomb exploded in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

Nearly three hundred others were wounded when the device, planted in a car, went off at Colombo's main bus terminal during the rush hour.

The incident is one of the worst mass killings in the long-running feud between the island's two main ethnic groups, the Tamils and the Sinhalese.

Most of the victims were from the country's majority ethnic group, the Sinhalese, who are Buddhists.

The two-and-a-half million Tamils, who are Hindus, make up 18% of Sri Lanka's 16 million people.

The Sri Lankan authorities believe the bomb was planted by Tamil extremists - known as the Tamil Tigers - who are fighting for an independent homeland.

Colombo was been placed under a dusk to dawn curfew after gangs of Sinhalese began to attack Tamils in revenge.

Massacre

The incident brings to 250 the numbers killed in attacks in the past week in Sri Lanka.

It follows the massacre of 127 people - mainly Sinhalese - four days ago in the town of Trincomalee, in the heart of the Tamil region in the north and east Sri Lanka.

Four years ago Tamil militants began a campaign for a separate state - since them more than 5,000 people have been killed in the fighting.

The Sri Lankan government has proposed giving greater autonomy to Tamil areas but refuses to consider an independent Tamil nation.

The Tamils were a prosperous elite when Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was ruled by the British.

They say since the country gained its independence they have been discriminated against in favour of the Sinhalese majority.

In Context
In the two days following the Colombo bomb another 100 people were killed in fighting between Tamil rebels and government troops.

The civil war continued throughout the 1990s and claimed the life of Sri Lankan President Premadasa in a Tamil bomb attack in 1993.

In February 2002 the government and Tamil Tiger rebels signed a permanent ceasefire agreement in a peace initiative sponsored by Norway.

In September the same year the Sri Lankan Government agreed to a key rebel demand and lifted its ban on the Tamil Tigers. In return the Tamils dropped their demands for a separate state.

But the talks have since faltered and rising levels of violence have threatened the truce.


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