Blast injures 16 in northern Sri Lanka town

Sri Lankan Police forming a human chain in parliament to protect the Speaker and enable a vote.

VAVUNIYA, Sept 13 (AFP) – A powerful explosion ripped through a chicken market in Sri Lanka’s northern town of Vavuniya on Wednesday, wounding 16 civilians, police and witnesses said.

Police said they believed the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) exploded a grenade inside the market.

“We suspect the Tigers were behind the attack,” a local police official.

Most of the wounded suffered shrapnel injuries.

The attack came as a Sri Lankan official denied a statement by peacebroker Norway that Colombo had agreed to unconditional talks with the rebels, who are fighting for an independent Tamil homeland.

Norway’s international development minister Erik Solheim said Tuesday the two sides had agreed to talks in a bid to halt escalating violence that since December has left over 1,500 people dead. .