Sri Lanka
Blast kills nine in eastern Sri Lanka
Jan 31, 2007 - 3:57:04 PM

Colombo, Jan 31 - Five policemen, three soldiers and a civilian were killed Wednesday when suspected Tamil rebels set off a claymore mine against a bus carrying security personnel on leave, police said.

The bus carrying 30 policemen and soldiers was attacked at Chenkalady in Batticaloa, 280 km east of the capital, at a location close to a university in the province.

Twelve more soldiers and policemen were injured in the blast and have been transferred to Colombo and nearby hospitals for treatment. The civilian killed was a bystander, police said.

'Terrorists may have been expecting a retaliation by triggering off the blast near the university,' a police officer in the area said.

The incident in the eastern province comes in the wake of the security forces recapturing some of the areas controlled by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam - in the eastern district of Batticaloa.

The military has been continuing their operations to take back other rebel held territory.

More than 300 suspected rebels and over 45 soldiers have been killed in a three-month-long offensive in the east to recapture the LTTE-held Vakarai area in Batticaloa.

Some 40,000 civilians have fled the area and are due to be resettled in the coming weeks.

Fighting between security forces and guerrillas has intensified after December 2005 and more than 3,200 have been killed during this period.

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