Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka boosts security in capital after bomb attack

By Ranga Sirilal

COLOMBO, May 29 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka tightened security in the capital on Tuesday, mounting new roadblocks to search for Tamil Tigers a day after suspected insurgents killed eight people and injured 35 with a roadside bomb, officials said.

Troops stepped up checks of vehicles entering Colombo, scouring for insurgents and weapons to avoid a repeat of Monday's deadly attack -- the second such incident in the capital in a week.

"The operation is to search for and arrest any infiltrators or seize any items to prevent further attacks and to provide more security to civilians and civil and commercial installations," said military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe.

The death toll from Monday's rush-hour blast rose to eight on Tuesday after an elite police commando died in hospital overnight.

The attack had targeted a police truck on a main road that runs past a military airport just outside the capital, but most of the dead and injured were civilians.

The attack was the latest in a series of such ambushes blamed on the Tigers in recent months amid a new chapter in the island's two-decade civil war.

Fighting is now focused on the north after the military captured the Tigers' eastern stronghold in recent months. The government has started to resettle the first of more than 100,000 war-displaced in captured rebel areas in the eastern district of Batticaloa.

But analysts say there is no clear winner on the horizon and fear a protracted conflict that has killed nearly 70,000 people since 1983 could rumble on for years.

The government has vowed to destroy the Tigers militarily, while the rebels say they will step up attacks using a homegrown air force of light planes smuggled into the country in pieces, setting the stage for escalation.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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