Sri Lanka's military says an explosion on a civilian bus in the central part of the country has killed at least 18 people and wounded more than 50 others.

The blast occurred Saturday in the town of Dambulla, about 150 kilometers north of the capital, Colombo.  The bus was carrying at least 100 passengers to the northern city of Anuradhapura to attend a religious ceremony. 

In a written statement, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse condemned the bombing, blaming it on Tamil Tiger rebels.  He asked the country's Sinhalese majority to remain calm and not be provoked by what he called a savage attack.  The president said the rebel group is eager to create a backlash to its terror, to win the sympathy of the international community.

There was no comment or claim of responsibility from the Tamil Tigers.

Sri Lanka's government formally pulled out of a 2002 Norwegian-brokered cease-fire with the rebels in January.

At least 70,000 people have been killed since the rebels began fighting for an independent homeland in 1983, claiming discrimination by Sri Lanka's majority-Sinhalese population.  The Tamil Tigers control much of the island's north.

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