Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels threw hand grenades at a meeting of police in northwestern Sri Lanka, wounding at least 18 officers in the latest attack on security forces, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday. The rebels launched the attack as around 30 policemen attended a routine briefing by superiors at Pesalai police station late Monday in Mannar district, said military spokesman, Brig. Nalin Witharanagee.
Manner town, 220 kilometers (137 miles) northwest of Colombo, is under government control, but the rebels operate from the jungles and nearby villages. Witharanagee blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the attack. There was no immediate comment available from the rebels.
Attacks on security forces have increased in recent weeks, with authorities accusing the Tamil Tigers of responsibility. The rebels have not admitted involvement in any of the attacks.
On Monday, suspected rebels detonated a mine and opened fire on an army foot patrol in eastern Sri Lanka, wounding at least two soldiers. At least 18 Sri Lankan soldiers have died in alleged rebel attacks since Dec. 4.
The rebels are fighting to create a homeland for the country's 3.2 million ethnic Tamil minority, saying they can prosper only away from the domination of 14 million Sinhalese. The war, which started in 1983, was stopped by a 2002 cease-fire, but peace talks broke down a year later over the rebels' demand for wider autonomy, reports the AP. I.L.