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Second Explosion Rocks Sri Lankan Capital

A bomb blast on the outskirts of Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, has killed at least 17 people and wounded nearly 40 others - just hours after a suicide bomber targeted the office of a government minister.

Military officials blame Tamil Tiger rebels for both blasts. The second bomb was hidden in a parcel and exploded outside a popular clothing store during the evening rush hour in the residential area of Nugegoda.

Earlier in the day Wednesday, a female bomber killed herself and one other person at the office of the Social Welfare Minister, Douglas Devananda, in Colombo. The ethnic Tamil minister was unhurt but his secretary was killed.

Tuesday, Sri Lanka's air force destroyed the rebels' radio station in the north, just before it was to broadcast a speech by rebel leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran.

Prabhakaran, who went ahead with the speech from a jungle hideout, ruled out any political settlement with the majority Sinhalese government.

Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create a separate homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, claiming discrimination from the Sinhalese majority.

Some 70,000 people have been killed and fighting continues despite a 2002 cease-fire.

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