Mine blast kills seven in Sri Lanka (Lead)

January 9th, 2009 - 2:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 9 (Xinhua) Three air force personnel and four civilians were killed Friday morning in a Claymore mine explosion carried out by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in eastern Sri Lanka, an official said.Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said that they were killed when the bus they were travelling in came under attack at about 9.30 a.m. at Morawewa area in Trincomalee district.

Two Air Force personnel and four civilians were injured in the explosion, Nanayakkara said, adding “it definitely was carried out by Tamil Tiger rebels”.

Government troops and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are currently engaged in a fierce battle in the north, with the troops getting an upper hand by taking most of the territory formerly controlled by the rebel group.

Military leaders also said that the remaining territory of the LTTE will be bagged by the troops within weeks, while some analysts maintain that the LTTE still has several thousand hardcore fighters who can hit back.

Claiming discrimination at the hands of majority Sinhalese-dominated governments, the LTTE has been fighting for more than two decades to set up an independent Tamil homeland in the north and the east.

Over 70,000 people have been killed so far in one of Asia’ s longest civil wars.

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