COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – A suicide bomber who hugged a former army general before detonating his explosive-laden vest killed 27 people gathered in a crowded opposition party office in northern Sri Lanka on Monday.
The attack by a suspected rebel came as government troops, in the midst of an offensive against the Tamil Tigers de facto state in the north, closed in on the rebels’ administrative capital of Kilinochchi, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.
The blast killed retired Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera, his wife and 25 others, including a television journalist covering the event. It wounded at least 80 people, Nanayakkara said.
The attack underlined analysts’ warnings that a conventional victory on the battlefield might drive the guerillas to focus increasingly on suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians.
The rebels, listed as a terror group in the United States and the European Union, are said to have carried out more than 240 suicide attacks against military, political and economic targets.