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12 killed, 90 injured in Sri Lanka blast which killed minister
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13:59, April 06, 2008

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Sri Lankan Minister of Highways was killed while at least 12 others dead and more than 90 injured in a suicide bomb explosion triggered a new year sports festival that blamed on the Tamil Tiger rebels, the military said on Sunday.

Officials from Defense Ministry said Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who was the chief guest to the occasion along with many civilians was killed at Weliweriya, 27 km north of Colombo when he was flagging off a marathon race aspart of a Sinhala New Year celebration event around 7:30 local time (0200 GMT).

Officials said at least 12 people were killed and more than 90 other people injured in the explosion.

Sri Lanka's ace marathon runner K.A. Karunaratne, who represented Sri Lanka at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, and National Athletic coach Lakshaman De Alwisis were among those killed in the bomb blast, a local newspaper, Daily Merrior, said on its web sit.

Fernandopulle became the fourth Sri Lankan parliamentarian to die this year in the island's escalation of violence in its separatist armed conflict.

His colleague DM Dassanayake was killed in a road side bomb explosion while two Tamil minority MPs were gunned down.

Two other parliamentarians also died since the beginning of the year due to a motor accident and ill health.

Fernandopulle, 55, entered parliament as an opposition member in 1989 and later promoted to various ranks as a Cabinet minister since 1994.

He was an extremely competent orator and a debater and a lawyer by profession.

The LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) rebels has been fighting the government troops since the mid-1980s to carve out a separate homeland for the Tamil minority in the north and east, resulting in the death of more than 70,000 people.

Source: Xinhua

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