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Sri Lankan suicide attack at sea

Sri Lanka bombing
Police have warned of political attacks being carried out by the separatist Tamil Tigers  

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- A Tamil Tiger suicide boat packed with explosives struck an oil tanker off the northern tip of Sri Lanka on Tuesday, setting the ship on fire, military officials said.

"One suicide boat hit the tanker and it is on fire," said military spokesman Brigadier Sanath Karunaratne told Reuters news agency.

Police have yet to give details on the number of casualties brought by the attack on the oil tanker, M.V. Silk Pride.

But officials said navy patrols have already rescued 12 crew members and 13 security personnel aboard the burning ship.

It was the latest suicide attack carried out by the separatist Tamil Tigers.

On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing two policemen and injuring 15 others, during the start of the parliamentary election campaign in the suburb of Narahenpita.

Police officials suspect it was an attempt to assassinate Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.

More attacks

It is also unclear if the latest attack is connected to the parliamentary election.

However, Sri Lanka's police warned of political assassinations by Tamil Tiger rebels ahead of the December 5 parliamentary election, as the death toll in Monday's suicide bombing rose to five.

The government has blamed the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the attack.

As many as 40 guerillas have infiltrated the capital, Colombo, and there might be more such explosions closer to the election, a senior official of the Terrorist Investigation Department told the Associated Press News Agency.

At a glance: Sri Lanka

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More than 20 people have been questioned in the investigation of Monday's explosion, but the bomber has not been identified, the official said.

Sri Lanka has a history of violent elections with attacks by Tamil Tigers, violence among the various parties, and ballot snatching.

Last year alone, some 70 people were killed in election-related violence.

The Tamil Tigers, fighting for a separate state in the north and east, are known to have used previous elections to target politicians as they move around to campaign for votes.

Sir Lanka's war against separatist Tamil rebels has dragged on for 18 years and killed more than 64,000 people.

Suicide bombers have targeted high-level officials in past campaigns, including President Chandrika Kumaratunga who was wounded in a December 1999 attack that killed at least 34 people.


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