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17 die in Colombo blasts
Chandani Kirinde writes from Colombo

In a day of heightened violence in Colombo, two bomb blasts left at least 17 persons dead and more than 39 injured on Wednesday.

In the main blast, which took place in a crowded Colombo suburb of Nugegoda, at least 16 civilians were killed and 37 others injured. A military official said a parcel bomb is believed to have caused the explosion and blamed the Tamil Tigers for it.

In another incident, a female suicide bomber blew herself inside the office of Tamil cabinet minister Douglas Devananda killing one person and injuring two others.

The woman, who had come to the ministry saying she needed help from the social service ministry, blew herself up when security personnel attempted to search her, a military official said. Devananda, who was in his office at the time, was unhurt. He has been targeted several times by the LTTE because of his decision to give up the armed struggle and join the political mainstream by entering Parliament.

This is the worst incident of violence in Colombo in more than 10 months and comes a day after LTTE leader Vellapulai Prabhakaran said in his annual hero’s day address that the LTTE would continue its struggle to carve out separate state in north and east Sri Lanka.

The rebels have taken a heavy beating from the military in recent months and have been driven out of the east and targeted by the Air Force. A top LTTE leader S.P.Tamilselvam was killed last month in an air raid.

The LTTE has repeatedly blamed the air raids for causing civilian casualties.

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