As the long-running war in Sri Lanka draws to a close, more and more civilians find themselves caught in the crossfire. A suicide bomber killed at least 28 people and injured at least 45 others, Monday, near a relief camp for people, mainly Tamils, fleeing the fighting between Sri Lanka's army and Tamil rebels.
Sri Lanka's military says a female Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blended into a group of civilians fleeing the fighting before detonating her bomb.
Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara is the spokesman for Sri Lanka's military. He says the suicide bomber was from a female cadre of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, better known by their initials LTTE.
Nanayakkara said, "Large numbers of civilians were coming, in seeking protection from the army. And, when they were coming in, they were being checked. When we were checking this female by the women soldiers, the LTTE suicide female cadre exploded herself."
Victims Mostly Women, Children
He says the suicide bomb attack killed and wounded mostly women and children at a relief camp near Vishvamadu in northern Sri Lanka. They were part of a mass exodus of civilians, mainly ethnic Tamils, trying to escape intense fighting between Sri Lankan troops and the LTTE.
The attack came after military officials reported more than 14,000 civilians had fled to government-protected "safe zones" in the north. U.N. relief agencies and other groups estimate about 250,000 civilians are trapped by the fighting, mostly in rebel-held territory.
The suicide attack could not be independently confirmed, because the Sri Lankan government has barred journalists from war-affected areas.
Some observers say the LTTE's pool of fresh recruits appears to be drying up, as more and more civilians pour into the "safe zones."
The LTTE has spent a quarter of a century fighting for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamil community. But their struggle appears to be coming to an end, with the Sri Lankan army closing in on the last of their strongholds.