Sri Lanka alert as Tamil Tigers commemorate 322 suicide bombers

July 5, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka was on high alert Thursday as Tamil Tiger rebels commemorated the 322 male and female suicide bombers who have blown themselves up for the guerrilla cause over the last two decades. The Tamil Tigers are fighting for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils on the majority Sinhalese island. The 35-year-old conflict has claimed more than 60,000 lives. Security forces set up snap roadblocks and checkpoints in the capital, Colombo, and prevented heavy vehicles from passing key government buildings amid fears the rebels could try to mark “Black Tiger” day with a bombing.

“Measures are under way to heighten our alert during the Black Tiger week,” said Senior Deputy Inspector General Jayantha Wickramaratne, a police spokesman.

“We are taking all measures to eliminate the risk of terrorist attacks,” he said.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who have been fighting for a separate homeland since 1972, have frequently staged their trademark suicide attacks around religious services for the fallen “martyrs.”

The group’s first suicide attack was by a guerrilla known as Captain Miller, who drove a truck bomb into an army camp on the Jaffna peninsula on