Many killed in Sri Lanka bombing

Cabinet minister among the injured after suicide attack in the country's south.

    The government has pointed the finger of blame at the separatist LTTE for Tuesday's attack [AFP]

    Wijesekara is Sri Lanka's minister for post and telecommunications.

    The AFP news agency said 60 people were wounded in the attack.

    LTTE blamed

    Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, Sri Lanka's defence spokesman, blamed it on the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

    "Definitely, it is LTTE," he said.

    In Video


    Blast blamed on Tamil Tigers 

    The LTTE has in the past launched attacks on senior government officials. It has been blamed by the Sri Lankan government for hundreds of suicide attacks.

    Minelle Fernandez, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Colombo, said: "We have not heard of any claim of responsibility ... One finds that, with this kind of attack, the government very quickly points the finger of blame at the LTTE. It is very much the LTTE's modus operandi in terms of how this kind of attack is carried out."

    The bombing in Matara comes as government forces maintain their push against the LTTE in the northeast of the country.

    The army, which has the Tamil Tigers surrounded in a 45sq km of strip of land, says it will soon defeat the group.

    At least 74 civilians were killed and 100 others hurt on Monday and Tuesday as a result of Sri Lanka army shelling of LTTE-held areas, the pro-rebel Tamilnet website said.

    'Indiscriminate shelling'

    The website reported that 25 children were among those killed by "intensified indiscriminate shelling" of a 'safe zone' known to contain civilians.

    The Sri Lankan military has denied firing on civilians, Fernandez said.

    Focus: Sri Lanka
    Q&A: Sri Lanka's civil war
    The history of the Tamil Tigers
    Timeline: Conflict in Sri Lanka
    'High cost' of victory over Tigers
    Caught in the middle
    "Brigadier Nanayakkara categorically denied that the army was responsible for the killings," she said. 

    "He said the government is not engaging any targets within the no-fire zone and that they are not firing on civilians."

    The UN has estimated that up to 200,000 civilians are trapped in the war zone.

    The Sri Lankan govermment puts the number of trapped civilians at about 70,000, and has accused the LTTE of using them as human shields.

    Over the weekend, at least 250 LTTE fighters were killed in military operations, the country's defence ministry said.

    The LTTE has fought since 1972 for an independent state for ethnic Tamils in the majority Sinhalese nation. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Pakistan's tribal areas: 'Neither faith nor union found'

    Residents of long-neglected northwestern tribal belt say incorporation into Pakistan has left them in a vacuum.