17 killed, 45 wounded in LTTE suicide explosion in Sri Lanka (Third Lead)

February 9th, 2009 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Feb 9 (IANS) At least 17 people were killed and 45 wounded Monday when an LTTE suicide bomber mingling with the civilians fleeing the rebel-held war zone blew herself up in the northeastern Mullaitivu district, defence authorities here said.

“According to initial reports received, at least 17 people were killed and 45 others were reported injured when an LTTE woman suicide bomber blew herself at an IDP (Internally Displaced People) rescue centre, north of Vishwamadhu in Mullaitivu this morning (Wednesday) around 11.30 a.m. A few military personnel are also said to be among the casualties reported,” the defence ministry said.

“Exact casualty figures are yet to be estimated as tension prevails in the area. Security forces immediately cordoned off the area, while medical units were rushed to the site,” it said.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that a group of women soldiers were screening “the influx of female civilians when an LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) female suicide cadre exploded herself at Vishwamadhu Suthanthirapuram area” in Mullaitivu Monday morning.

Mullaitivu town, which is a former LTTE military nerve centre, lies some 350 km north-east of here. It was taken by the military last month after months of fierce clashes.

Vishwamadhu and the adjoining Suthanthirapuram areas are on the east of the A-35 Paranthan-Mullaitivu road.

“According to initial reports, a large number of civilians were feared killed and scores wounded in the blast. There were women soldiers among the victims,” Brig Nanayakkara told IANS.

He said that the wounded civilians have been rushed to the medical centres of the army in the area before being transferred to the Vavuniya and Anuradhapura hospitals.

“This is yet another desperate attempt by the LTTE to prevent thousands of displaced civilians from fleeing the areas controlled by them and enter the government-held areas,” he said.

The suicide explosion has come at a time when the pro-LTTE websites have alleged that scores of civilians were killed in the fast shrinking LTTE-held areas due to shelling and aerial attacks during the past few days.

Denying these allegations, the military said that the Tamil Tigers were now holed up in less than 200 square km in Mullaitivu district and were holding thousands of civilians as human shield.

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