COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) Two days of scattered fighting between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels left at least 39 insurgents and a soldier dead, the military said Saturday.
A bomb explosion on a bus wounded at least 14 people near the Sri Lankan capital Saturday, but a bigger disaster was averted because a passenger spotted the device and everyone fled the vehicle before the blast, officials said.
The latest fighting erupted in northeastern Welioya region Saturday, where soldiers killed at least eight guerrillas, the military said in a statement.
A day earlier, clashes broke out in at least six locations in northern Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya districts and Welioya, leaving 31 rebels and one soldier dead, the statement said.
In Mount Lavinia south of the capital Colombo, the driver moved his bus some yards away from passengers and managed to escape the vehicle just before the explosion, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said. The driver was among the wounded, Nanayakkara said. He blamed Tamil Tiger separatists for the blast.
Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan did not respond to calls seeking comment.
Dr. W.G. Gunawardena said 14 wounded people were taken to the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
A passenger saw the parcel and alerted the driver and conductor, Nanayakkara said.
Passenger Ajith Prasanna Peiris said everyone clambered out of the bus after no one claimed the parcel: "Within minutes the bomb exploded," Peiris said.
Bomb blasts blamed on the Tamil guerrillas have killed 19 people and wounded scores more in and around Colombo since January.
The Tamil Tiger rebels have been fighting since 1983 to create an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's minority ethnic Tamils after decades of marginalization by governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority.
More than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict.