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Car Bomb Kills 2 in Sri Lankan Capital


A car bomb has killed at least two people and injured at least seven others in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Police immediately blamed the guerrilla Tamil Tiger group for the attack, and say the target may have been a prominent politician.

Officials say a van exploded in a residential neighborhood in Colombo. Witnesses say one of the dead was a child, who was apparently walking by when the explosion occurred.

Police report the attack appears to be the work of the Tamil Tiger guerrilla group, which was likely targeting Sankarapillai Sivathasan, a Tamil politician who is a critic of the rebels. Sivathasan was among the injured.

The rebels have not responded to the allegation they carried out the attack.

In a statement on the rebel's Web page, Sivathasan is described as the leader of a paramilitary organization working for the Sri Lankan government.

The Tamil Tiger rebels have often used car bombs and suicide bombers in their violent 20-year campaign for greater rights for the country's ethnic Tamil minority.

It is the third bomb attack in the capital this year. The rebels deny responsibility for the first two, which were aimed at senior military officials.

The attack comes after two weeks of fighting between the government and the Tamil Tigers around the town of Muttur, in the eastern district of Trincomalee. The battle there is the worst since the two sides signed a cease-fire in 2002, intended to end the civil war.

A Norwegian envoy is in Sri Lanka to try bringing the two sides back to the negotiating table. But Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, an analyst with the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, says that so far, neither side has shown any interest in stopping the fighting.

"I don't think either of them recognizes in themselves or in each other, any potential for conflict transformation of a peaceful nature," Saravanamuttu said. "I think both sides are trying to effect a change in the balance of power on the ground before there's any resumption of negotiations."

The fighting in Muttur began when the government launched air strikes on the area in response to the rebels' decision to block an irrigation channel that supplied water to villagers in government-held land.

Civilians fleeing the area have described the fighting as brutal. The French aid agency, Action Against Hunger said Tuesday it has found the bodies of two more victims of a massacre in its Muttur office - bringing the total number of killed up to 17. It is not known who killed the aid workers, most of whom were ethnic Tamils.

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