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Suicide Bomber Kills Sri Lankan General


A senior Sri Lankan general and two other people have been killed in a bombing in the capital Colombo. Officials immediately blamed the Tamil Tiger rebels, who they accuse of trying to derail the country's peace process. Tamil Tiger leaders deny carrying out the attack.

Officials say a suicide bomber on a motorcycle rammed into a car taking Sri Lanka's third-highest ranking military officer to work, detonating explosives.

Brigadier Prasad Semarasinghe, Sri Lanka's military spokesman, blamed the attack that killed the general and two other people on the Tamil Tigers, or the LTTE, which is a State Department designated terrorist organization. He says an LTTE terrorist suicide bomber this morning targeted the car of Major General Parami Kulatunga, totally destroying the vehicle.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse said the bombing was an attempt by the Tamil Tigers to derail efforts to restore peace in Sri Lanka. Last week Mr. Rajapakse asked the rebels to hold direct talks, an offer the they rejected.

The Tamil Tigers deny they carried out the attack. They say the incident, and others like it, are attempts by the government to smear their name, and to serve as a pretext for military action against them.

The government has not said how it intends to respond to the attack. In April, it launched air strikes on rebel-held territory after a female suicide-bomber attacked the army headquarters in the capital Colombo, wounding a senior commander.

The government and the rebels say they continue to uphold a 2002 cease-fire agreement, aimed at ending more than two decades of civil war. But with more than 800 people killed in clashes since December, some consider the ceasefire dead in all but name.

Palitha Kohona, the secretary general of the government's Peace Secretariat says there is a point at which violence by the rebels will force the government to resume full-scale military action against them. But for now, the government's objective is to renew peace talks.

"We hope that that point would not be reached for a long time," said Kohona. "Our whole objective at the moment - we are devoting all our strength - in order to drag the Tigers back to the negotiating table, so that a just and honorable peace can be achieved for all the people in this country."

The Tamil Tigers first launched their insurgency in 1983, demanding independence for the areas in the north and east of the country where the ethnic-Tamil minority is predominant. As part of peace talks they downgraded that demand to greater autonomy.