Sri Lanka says another 45 Tigers killed as blast toll climbs

March 1, 2008 (AFP) – A police officer wounded in a suicide bombing died in hospital Saturday, a hospital spokesman said as Sri Lanka’s defence ministry claimed security forces had killed 45 rebels in fresh fighting. The policeman died of his injuries a day after being caught in a huge blast detonated by a suspected Tamil Tiger rebel during a search operation in the city.

“One of the three police officers wounded in Friday’s bombing died today,” a hospital spokesman said, adding that six others wounded in the explosion were still undergoing treatment.

The blast, which went off when police approached a house in Colombo’s commercial district of Kotahena, was heard across the city of 650,000 people.

Police said the bomber was believed to be a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Meanwhile, the defence ministry said 45 guerrillas were killed in renewed fighting in the island’s embattled north where 11 government soldiers were also wounded.

There was no immediate reaction from the Tigers.

According to the defence ministry, 1,733 rebels have been killed so far this year which has seen the end of a truce and escalating violence. The military estimates the Tigers’ strength at