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Rebel Leader Reported Killed in Sri Lanka

Military officials in Sri Lanka say government troops have killed a senior Tamil Tiger rebel leader.

The officials say Sabaratnam Selvathurai was killed within the past week during fighting near the northern rebel stronghold of Puthukkudiyiruppu.

Selvanthurai was in charge of the Tamil Tigers' financial unit.  If his death is confirmed, he would be the second senior rebel leader to be killed in government attacks within the past year-and-a-half.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's government says it will impose new security measures around the country in the wake of a suicide bombing Tuesday on the island's southern tip.  The blast killed at least 14 people at a Muslim religious ceremony.  

The government blames Tamil Tigers for the attack.

Government officials have not provided details of their new security plans, but the media ministry on Wednesday warned people to stay alert even in areas far from the northern war zone.

Post and Telecommunications Minister Mahinda Wijesekara is among those wounded in Tuesday's bombing.  Doctors treating the Cabinet minister say his condition has improved but he remains in serious condition.

Sri Lanka's government says it is in the "final phase" of an operation to crush the Tamil Tigers, who have been fighting for an independent homeland since 1983.

Aid agencies say tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped alongside the rebels on a narrow strip of land along Sri Lanka's northern coast.

The United Nations has accused the rebels of holding civilians as human shields, something the rebels deny.

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