Suicide blast kills 12 police personnel amid Sri Lanka fighting (Third Lead)

June 16th, 2008 - 3:35 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, June 16 (IANS) At least 12 police personnel were killed and 23 wounded when a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber riding a motorbike blew himself opposite the office of a senior police officer in the northern Sri Lankan town of Vavuniya, military sources said. The bomber, from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), drove close to the police station and triggered a massive blast targeting police personnel leaving the senior superintendent’s office for routine deployment around 7.10 a.m. Monday.

“Twelve police officers, including three women police constables, were killed and 23 others were injured in the explosion. Seventeen policemen, two women constables, three school children and another civilian were among the injured,” the Media Centre for National Security of the defence ministry said in a statement.

The wounded police personnel and civilians have been admitted to the base hospital in Vavuniya town, 254 km north of Colombo.

Television channels showed visuals of the blast site where the motorbike used in the suicide attack was shattered to pieces. Ambulances evacuated the wounded police personnel and civilians to the Vavuniya hospital.

The latest suicide attack has taken place at a time when government troops have opened many fronts in Vavuniya and in the northwestern Mannar district in their bid to advance into the rebel-held Wanni area amid fierce resistance from the LTTE.

Meanwhile, at least 30 LTTE cadres and four government soldiers were killed and over 45 wounded on both sides during separate gun battles elsewhere in Mannar, Vavuniya, Jaffna and Weli Oya areas Sunday.

According to official figures, at least 14 LTTE cadres and two soldiers were killed in Weli Oya region while another 11 rebels and a soldier were killed near the forward defences in Vavuniya.

It said that the troops recovered three bodies of LTTE fighters during clearing operations in Vavuniya.

The Sri Lankan military claimed Sunday that air force jets bombed and destroyed “a key combat-logistic facility” of the LTTE in rebel-held Mullaitivu district. The facility was used to convert, maintain and service LTTE combat vehicles.

Without commenting about the government’s claim on the bombing, the rebels said in a statement that two civilians were killed and 11 wounded in the air raid.

Military sources rejected the LTTE claim and said “the target was acquired after constant air surveillances and continuously gathered information”.

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