Source AP ©

Bomb in bus kills 15 in eastern Sri Lanka

A bomb ripped through a bus being searched by soldiers at a military checkpoint in eastern Sri Lanka on Monday, killing at least 15 people and wounding 10 others, the military said.

The bus was near the town of Ampara, about 220 kilometers (130 miles) east of Colombo, when the blast went off, military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.

At least 15 people were killed and 10 wounded, said Samarasinghe, who blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the attack.

The bus had stopped at a military checkpoint and most of the passengers had gotten off while troops searched the vehicle, he said. The bomb exploded as the soldiers were carrying out their search, he added.

Ampara was the scene of bitter fighting last month between government forces and the rebels as the army fought to oust the rebels from bases they hold in the east.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebels have fought the government since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's 3.1 million Tamil minority in the north and east of the island after decades of discrimination by the Sinhalese-dominated state.

At least 69,000 people have died in the violence.

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