A Sri Lankan government minister has been killed and 10 others wounded in a bomb attack by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels. As Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, the latest attack follows the government's decision to formally abandon a tattered truce.
Officials say Nation Building Minister D.M. Dassanayake was on his way to parliament Tuesday when his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb about 20 kilometers north of Colombo.
The minister suffered severe head injuries and died while undergoing surgery in hospital. The assassination took place despite tight security in the capital, where police have been searching vehicles and questioning people in an attempt to prevent attacks by Tamil rebels.
Colombo has witnessed numerous bombings targeting senior government officials and the military since the two sides resumed hostilities two years ago.
But Tuesday's attack was the first major attack since the government announced last week that it was pulling out of a truce that had consistently been breached by both sides.
The head of Colombo's National Peace Council, Jehan Perera, fears the formal end of the truce between the government and the rebels, who are also referred to as the LTTE, presages an increase in the level of violence.
"Although the government is making every effort to prevent such attacks, the LTTE has been adept for the last several decades in getting to Colombo," said Perera. "In all likelihood, violence is going to increase, because by abrogating the ceasefire, whatever hope there was that the level of violence would reduce and the two parties would again go back to peace talks has evaporated."
Fighting is also intensifying in the north, where the rebels have their bases. Since the start of the year, the government says 95 rebels and six soldiers have been killed in clashes.
There is no way to verify these numbers, and both sides often make exaggerated claims. Still, the government is confident it has the upper hand with the rebels, and military officials have expressed confidence in defeating them in the field.
Analysts, however, are skeptical that the rebels, who have waged a 25-year-long campaign for a Tamil homeland, can be vanquished militarily.