A bomb explosion in a town in eastern Sri Lanka has killed at least 11 people, a day ahead of local elections in the region.
Friday's blast wrecked a cafe and also wounded at least 29 people in Ampara, roughly 200 kilometers east of Colombo in Eastern Province. Sri Lankan Defense Ministry officials blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the attack.
Police and troops have flooded Eastern Province for Saturday's vote, the first election in the province in two decades. Rebel forces had controlled the area for years, but a recent military campaign restored Colombo's authority over the region.
With fighting on the increase before the elections, Sri Lankan military officials said they captured a rebel-held town Adampan, in northern Mannar district Friday and killed at least 31 Tamil Tigers. The government says three soldiers died in the clash.
Authorities in Colombo say the army's helicopter gunships supported troops on the ground as they advanced on the Alankulam area.
The pro-rebel Web site "Tamilnet" disputes the government's account. The rebels say their fighters killed 30 government soldiers in Friday's battle and forced a retreat by the military.
Tamil rebels have been fighting for an independent Tamil state in northern Sri Lanka since 1983. Fighting has escalated dramatically since the government officially withdrew from a cease-fire agreement earlier this year, charging that rebels were repeatedly violating the truce.