Minister wounded as suicide bomber kills 14

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The Independent Online

A suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed 14 people and wounded 35, including Sri Lanka's telecommunications minister, during a Muslim festival in the island's south yesterday.

The blast happened in front of a mosque in Godapitiya in Matara district, about 160km (100 miles) south of the capital, Colombo, during a festival to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Mohamed.

"Six ministers were there and terrorists used this opportunity to target us," the oil resources minister, A H M Fowzie, said. "Only one minister, Mahinda Wijesekara, got injured."

A hospital spokesman said: "About 35 injured were admitted and four of them are seriously injured" Mr Wijesekara was treated in the intensive care unit, then flown to Colombo.

The government called the attack "another desperate act" by the Liberation Tigers. They have attacked Muslims before: in 1990, they killed more than 140 at mosques in eastern Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan troops have cornered the Tigers in 45 sq km (20 sq miles) of the north-east coast and is confident of defeating them soon.