Sri Lanka suicide bomb kills 26

A Sri Lankan suicide bomber killed 26 people at an ancient tourist town today, including a popular retired army general who was the main opposition party's provincial leader.





The blast, immediately blamed by the government on the rebel Tamil Tigers, also injured at least 80 people, the military said.



The bomber struck during the opening of a new office for the opposition United National Party (UNP) in the north central town of Anuradhapura, 200 kilometres north of the capital Colombo, attended by retired Major-General Janaka Perera.



"A suicide bomber went inside and exploded. My senior officer there said 22 people were killed, and among the dead were Janaka Perera and his wife," Deputy Inspector General K P P Pathirana told Reuters. Hospital officials later raised the death toll to 26.



Last month Perera unsuccessfully ran to be North Central Province's chief minister, a powerful position that was seen as a stepping stone to help him challenge for his party's leadership.



The military said the blast was the latest carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who are credited with perfecting suicide bombing during a 25-year war to establish a separate homeland for the country's Tamil minority.



"It was an LTTE suicide attack," military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.



The UNP said it was not sure who was responsible, but said Perera had been threatened by the LTTE and government allies including a breakaway Tiger faction that became a political party last year and has been accused of rights abuses.





"The government had opened up the opportunities to kill him by not providing security despite repeated requests," UNP General Secretary Tissa Attanayake told reporters.



"He was a prominent general who fought against LTTE and is a popular character."



Perera gained fame after he was credited with turning the tide against a Tiger onslaught that almost saw the government lose control of the northern Jaffna Peninsula in 2000.



Anuradhapura is huge tourist draw and home to some of Sri Lankan Buddhism's holiest sites. For a millennium it was the seat of the kingdom of the Sinhalese, who make up 75 per cent of the Indian Ocean island's 21 million people.



It has many ancient ruins, but also major military operations to supply the war zone further north.



Every government since independence from Britain in 1948 has been led by the Sinhalese, and Tamils for years have complained of marginalisation and broken promises, which helped spark the LTTE-led war in 1983.



The LTTE, among the world's most resilient and ruthless insurgencies, has been blamed for killing many politicians including rival Tamils over the years.



The rebels could not be reached for comment, but have rarely claimed responsibility for such bombings.









Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas