Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Would-be Tamil bomber arrested


The Sri Lankan government announced yesterday the arrest of a would-be Tamil rebel suicide bomber and three accomplices who had allegedly targeted VIPs in the southern Sinhalese heartland.

Separately, the military said one officer and one soldier were killed and 12 soldiers were wounded in a roadside bomb attack in northern Jaffna that military spokesman, Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe, blamed on the Tamil Tiger rebels. The bomb hit a bus carrying the soldiers yesterday, causing the casualties.

In Colombo, chief government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told a news conference that the arrest of the would-be bomber -- a woman whose name was withheld -- was made on Sunday in the town of Tissamaharama, close to the temple town of Kataragama, frequently visited by senior officials from Colombo.

"A lot of VIPS visit the area," Rambukwella said.

Rambukwella said the news of the arrest was not announced before to facilitate investigation. He said the suspect was trained to be a suicide bomber by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the Tamil Tigers' official name.

Rambukwella said two cyanide capsules were found in her possession, but police overpowered her before she could consume them.

The separatist rebels carry the capsules to avoid arrest. Her interrogation led to the arrest of three accomplices, Rambukwella said.

Rambukwella said the investigation led to her hide-out, where two fake separate National Identity Cards and a stitched jacket, similar to one used by suicide bombers, were found. He declined to give further details.

In the latest suicide bombing blamed on the rebels, on the 26th of last month, an attacker on a motorcycle rammed into a car carrying Sri Lanka's third-highest ranking military officer, Major General Parami Kulatunga, killing himself, the general and three other people.

Near-daily attacks in the island's volatile north and east have rocked a fragile ceasefire brokered by Norway in 2002.

More than 750 people have died in escalating violence since December, raising fears the country could be plunged back into full-blown civil war.

More than 65,000 people were killed in the conflict before the two sides signed the Norwegian-brokered cease-fire. Efforts to resume peace talks have failed, with each side accusing the other of a lack of sincerity.

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