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23 killed in suicide attack in Dharmapuram: 64 injured

A woman LTTE suicide bomber killed 23 people including 15 armed forces personnel and eight civilians and injured 64 others by blowing herself up among a group of civilians fleeing uncleared areas at Suranthanpuram Checkpoint at Dharmapuram close to Vishvamadu yesterday.

"She came with civilians and exploded herself while the military was checking them. 64 others were injured", military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told The Island.

More than 800 civilians had crossed the frontlines yesterday morning and were being searched by soldiers of the 58 Division troops before being sent to the welfare centres he said.

Over sixty injured in the suicide attack were being airlifted to Anuradhapura and Colombo National Hospitals for treatment as some of their injuries were reportedly serious with profuse bleeding.

Among the killed were women soldiers, children of the displaced, he said adding further details would be provided later.

The Air Force has transported at least thirty-five injured people to Anuradhapura Hospital by 2.00 p.m. yesterday (9). 

At least fifteen children were among the injured according to initial reports.

"The Tigers are now desperate because they don’t have any control over the civilians.

They wanted to stop these people coming in," Brigadier Nanayakkara said.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa described the explosion as a heinous crime and queried what the LTTE sympathizers in international community and INGOS have to say now.

On February 4, the LTTE had sent a 14 year old girl as a suicide bomber towards the advancing troops at Chalai. "The well attired child appeared in front of the Security Forces defences as if she was going to surrender.. Her hands were held up and she blew herself once troops challenged her to stop as she walked towards the security forces defences", military sources said. It was not clear whether the girl blew herself off or the LTTE had made use of a remote control device to explode her, they said.

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