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Top Lanka general killed

Panipitiya (Sri Lanka), June 26 (Reuters): One of Sri Lanka’s top generals was assassinated today by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber who rammed his motorbike into an army convoy near the capital, officials said.

Three other people were also killed.

Army deputy chief of staff Major-General Parami Kulatunga was travelling to army headquarters when the attacker approached his vehicle and an escorting army pickup truck in rush-hour traffic about 20 km from Colombo.

The blast left the car a twisted wreck.

“The general is dead. Two others (soldiers) are also dead,” Chief Inspector Chaminda Bamunuarachchi said at the scene. A civilian was also killed. “I think it was a suicide attack against the general.”

The attack comes on the heels of a rash of ambushes and military clashes that have killed around 700 people ' half of them civilians ' so far this year. Many fear the violence could wreck a 2002 truce and reignite a two-decade civil war.

The LTTE, who have long used suicide bombers both in battle and assassinations, denied they were responsible for today’s blast.

An April attack by a female suicide bomber on army headquarters in Colombo wounded the army’s commander and prompted government bombing raids on the rebels.

“These killings are further examples of the LTTE’s concerted efforts to derail the peace process through acts of terror, and its total disregard for the international community's repeated calls on it to cease all violence and acts of terrorism,” President Mahinda Rajapakse said.

Kulatunga’s car was left lying perpendicular across the narrow street, burnt-out and still smouldering. A witness saw the severed head of the suspected suicide bomber lying in the gutter around 50 metres down the street.

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