Fifteen dead, minister hurt in Sri Lanka suicide attack

March 10, 2009 (AFP) - At least 15 people were killed Tuesday and another 60, including a government minister, were wounded in a suicide bombing in southern Sri Lanka blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels, officials said.

The attacker targeted politicians attending a function at a mosque in the town of Akuressa, and came as the ethnic rebels continue to lose ground in the face of a fierce government offensive on their shrinking northeast base.
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Some 20 people, including Postal Services Minister Mahinda Wijesekera, were wounded in the attack. He was reported to be fighting for his life in a local hospital.

Culture Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene was initially listed as wounded because he was covered in blood, but was given the all-clear and found to have been covered with the blood of other victims.

"We were talking in procession and just passing the entrance to the mosque when there was a blast. I thought it was a big fire-cracker," Abeywardene told AFP by telephone from Akuressa, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Colombo.
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"My clothes were covered in blood and I started running. Later I realised that I was not hurt, but I had blood from someone who was hit in the blast.

"There were lot of

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