Nine dead in Sri Lanka suicide blast

At least nine people were killed yesterday when a female suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to her body at a military checkpoint in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo, police and witnesses said.

The explosion happened only hours after the Prince of Wales left the island, following a four-day visit to mark Sri Lanka's 50th independence anniversary. Government forces had been on high alert for attacks by Tamil Tiger rebels during the anniversary festivities.

A senior police official at the blast site said the dead included three civilians, one of whom was the bomber, who detonated the explosives after being asked to step out of a van at the checkpoint.

The force of the explosion scattered body parts over a wide area. Sand bags stacked around the check post were splattered with blood. The nine dead included two soldiers and three airmen. Officials had originally put the toll at seven, but increased the figure after recovering body parts.

- Reuters, Colombo