World News

Sri Lankan bus blast kills at least 64

15 June 2006 at 20:22 | 647 views

The Sri Lankan government bombed Tamil strongholds on Thursday after an explosion tore through a bus killing at least 64 people.

The government blamed the Tamil Tigers for the attack, but the rebels denied they had anything to do with it.

The bus was travelling in the largely Sinhalese town of Kabithigollewa about 210 kilometres northeast of Colombo, carrying commuters and schoolchildren at about 8 a.m. local time when the explosion ripped through it.

The blast, which military officials said was caused either by a landmine packed with more than 20 pounds of explosives, or by a pair or claymore mines, blew the bus on its side, trapping passengers.

Officials said 13 of the dead were children. At least 78 other people were wounded in the blast, the largest act of violence since the government and the rebels agreed to a ceasefire in 2002.

Hours afterward, the military launched air strikes in rebel areas.

A military official told the Associated Press that the action against the Tigers would be limited.

The Tamil rebels have pushed for autonomy over the last two decades in the north and east of the country. More than 60,000 people have been killed since then.