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Bus explosion kills 24 in Sri Lanka
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At least 24 people were killed and 66 injured when a civilian bus was caught in an explosion blamed on Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka's southeastern Monaragala district Wednesday morning, said the military.


Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said a civilian bus was attacked by a Claymore mine at about 7:45 a.m. (0215 GMT) in Okkampitiya, about 240 km southeast of Colombo, adding that many of the casualties were school children.


The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been blamed for the explosion by the government.


The Defense Ministry said all the schools in the Uva Province, where Okkampitiya is located, have been closed for three days with effect from Wednesday.


Shortly after the bus attack, an Army vehicle was caught in a Claymore mine in the same district around 9:45 a.m. (0415 GMT), with four soldiers being injured.


The two blasts occurred as the government's decision to withdraw from the ceasefire agreement with the LTTE would take effect on Wednesday.


Claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhala majority, the LTTE has been fighting the government since the mid-1980s to establish a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and east.


(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2008)

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