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10 killed in Sri Lanka suicide blast


Colombo : At least 10 people were killed and more than 20 others, including three government ministers, were injured in a suicide bombing Tuesday near a mosque in southern Sri Lanka, police said.

The attack took place in the Godapitiya area in the town of Akurassa in Matara district, 160 km south of Colombo.

Most of the victims were Muslim devotees attending celebrations at the mosque for the Milad-un-Nabi festival, marking the anniversary of the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.

The director of the hospital in Matara, Aruna Jayasekara, said that Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mahinda Wijesekara was in serious condition with injuries to his head.

A team of doctors has been airlifted from the capital to treat the minister, who is in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

The driver of the minister said that he believed the suicide bomber had come on a motorcycle and struck when the minister was walking in a procession along with other ministers.

“The ministers and the invitees were walking when I suddenly heard the sound of an explosion. I saw the minister and several others, including his security, fall on the ground,” said the driver Dilhan Kurukularatna.

The military blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the attack, saying they have carried out similar attacks in the past.

The attack came as government troops were on the final phase of recapturing the last rebel stronghold in the north-eastern part of the country.