Sri Lankan Minister Killed in Suicide Bomb Attack

Senior Sri Lankan Minister of Industrial Development C.V. Gunaratne was killed Wednesday afternoon in a suicide bombing carried out by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels.

Police said the bombing happened at 1:45 p.m. (0745 GMT) at Ratmalana in southern suburb of Colombo when the minister was leading a procession in his electorate to commemorate the War Heroes Day which fell on Wednesday.

Initial reports said Mayor of Dehiwala-Mt.Lavinia Jayaratne Perera and at least seven others have also been killed in the bombing.

Number of casualties are not known yet and the police have moved to the scene of attack.

Gunaratne was seen this morning with President Kumaratunga at the main ceremony held at the President's Secretariat to mark the War Heroes Day.

The minister was a popular figure who moved with the masses freely and this attack has come in the wake of President Kumaratunga's tough warning this morning to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels.

The LTTE rebels, who have been fighting for 17 years to carve out a homeland for minority Tamils, are known for setting off explosions to assassinate government officials.

People's Daily Online ---