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Explosion Rocks Sri Lankan Capital, Hours After Minister's Assassination


A bomb went off in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo Tuesday, just hours after a minister and his bodyguard were killed by a roadside bomb.

The military said no one was hurt by the bomb in Colombo, which exploded inside a telephone booth in an apartment complex.

Earlier, the minister of nation building, D.M. Dassanayake, died after a roadside bomb tore through the side of his car, about 20 kilometers north of the capital.

Hospital officials say his bodyguard also was killed. At least nine other people were wounded.

The government blamed Tamil Tiger rebels.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaskse condemned the assassination and said the government would redouble its efforts to rid the country of terrorism.

Tamil rebels are believed to be responsible for a number of assassinations and attempted assassinations in recent years, including one in 2006 that badly wounded the head of the army. Later that year, Sri Lanka's third most senior army officer was killed.

Tuesday's attacks came just a week after the Sri Lankan government formally withdrew from a 2002 cease-fire agreement that has been repeatedly violated by both sides over the past year.

The government has vowed to drive the Tamil rebels out of their strongholds in the north and has had the advantage in the conflict in recent months.

Rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create a separate homeland for minority Tamils, claiming discrimination by the country's Sinhalese majority. About 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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