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Blast kills 99 soldiers in Sri Lanka
Latest Updated by 2006-10-17 16:03:53
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An explosives laden truck driven by a LTTE suicide squad member hit buses transporting Sri Lankan Navy sailors Monday. The death toll in the attack has risen to 99 with 116 others injured.

An explosives laden truck driven by a LTTE suicide squad member hit buses transporting Sri Lankan Navy sailors Monday. The death toll in the attack has risen to 99 with 116 others injured. (Xinhua Photo)

The death toll in the attack against Sri Lankan Navy personnel blamed on the Tamil Tiger rebels has risen to 99 with 116 others injured, a government minister said.

Keheliya Rambukwella, the minister of Policy Planning and the government's defense spokesman, said that several injured sailors were in critical condition.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels were blamed for the suicide bomb attack at Habarana, North Central Province around 1:45 p.m. local time (0815 GMT) Monday.

An explosives laden truck driven by a LTTE suicide squad member caused the blast, which hit buses transporting sailors between the capital Colombo and the eastern port town of Trincomalee.

"This is a brutal and a cowardly terror attack by the LTTE," Rambukwella said.

The minister said the government peace secretariat had informed him that peace talks scheduled for Oct. 28 and 29 this month in Switzerland would go ahead as planned despite the rebel attack on the Navy personnel.

"They (talks) were arranged prior to the incident so they will go ahead. The government will show its commitment to a negotiated settlement," Rambukwella added.

He said after the blast the government had ordered air strike against identified rebel targets in the Eastern Province.

However, the LTTE's defense spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan said the air force had bombed villages in the Northern Province, causing injuries to civilians.

The LTTE spokesman would neither deny nor accept responsibility to the suicide attack against the Navy.

"When air force continue to bomb and the Army keep on attacking (the rebels), how could the LTTE refrain from attacking military?" Ilanthirayan commented without accepting direct responsibility.

Defense officials said one air craft, an Israeli-built Kfir, had crashed into a lagoon off the west coast when it was returning after a bombing mission in the rebel held territory.

The violence continue despite pressure from the international backers of the Norwegian peace process on both sides to return to the negotiating process.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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