A female suicide bomber, believed to be a Tamil Tiger rebel and pretending to be pregnant to conceal explosives, exploded a bomb in front of a car that was taking Sri Lanka's top military general inside the army headquarters in Colombo yesterday, the military said.
The blast killed eight people and wounded 27 others, military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said.
The bomber died on the spot and Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka suffered serious abdominal injuries, he said.
The general's escort and driver also died, and other victims included civilians who had visited the complex to meet relatives, Samarasinghe said.
Fonseka was in surgery.
"He is not out of danger, we are operating on him now," said Dr Hector Weerasinghe of Colombo's National Hospital.
At least 10 surgeons were attending him.
Ten other people, including some civilians caught in the blast, were also hospitalized.
The female bomber was able to enter the area by presenting fake identification and saying she had an appointment for a pregnancy examination at the army hospital located inside the complex, the officials said.
"I saw a fireball as I came out of my saloon," said S.A. Weerasinghe, who works in the military saloon, which is also inside the sprawling complex.
A rebel official and witnesses said the military responded hours later with air strikes and mortars in the guerrilla-held region of Trincomalee, 215km northeast of the capital, Colombo.
"There are at least two aircraft dropping bombs into our areas and there is shelling from army camps nearby," rebel official S. Elilan said by telephone from Trincomalee.
The Defense Ministry in Colombo declined to comment.
However, witnesses who live in nearby areas confirmed the air strikes and shelling.
No reports of casualties or damage were immediately available.