Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Sri Lanka minister dead after blast

COLOMBO (AFP) — Sri Lankan government minister D.M. Dassanayake died in hospital Tuesday after his convoy was hit by a powerful roadside blast near the capital, doctors said.

Police said a fragmentation mine -- a device frequently used by Tamil Tiger rebels -- was detonated as the minister's convoy passed the town of Ja-Ela, 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of the capital.

"The minister was on his way to parliament when his vehicle hit the Claymore... his vehicle has been damaged," Nanayakkara said, adding that those injured have been rushed to a nearby hospital.

Sri Lankan police and security forces have been on high alert for possible Tamil Tiger bomb attacks after the government announced it was pulling out of a tattered ceasefire agreement with the ethnic rebels.

The Norwegian-brokered truce, which was signed in 2002, officially comes to an end next week.

The latest attack also came five days after a similar roadside bomb in Colombo targeted a military bus, killing five people. The authorities blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for that attack.