May 27, 2008 / 9:49 AM / 10 years ago

Sri Lanka vows to crush rebels as attacks mount

COLOMBO, May 27 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka will press on with a military campaign against Tamil Tiger rebels, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said on Tuesday, vowing not to be intimidated by bombings in the capital blamed on the rebels in recent weeks.

At least nine people were killed and 73 wounded when a bomb exploded on a train in Colombo on Monday, an attack blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east of the island.

"My Government and I are committed to defeating terrorism. No one should have expectations that there will be a let up in the battle against terrorism because of the frenzied attacks by the LTTE. I will leave no room for terrorism in this country," Rajapaksa said in a statement condemning the latest attack.

The explosion came amid daily land sea and air attacks as the military wages an offensive to retake the Tigers’ northern stronghold after evicting them from jungles in the east.

Hundreds of rebel fighters have been killed, the military says. Independent confirmation from the battlefield is not possible and both sides are known to exaggerate enemy casualties while playing down their own.

Rajapaksa said the Tigers had suffered setbacks and were carrying out indiscriminate bombings.

"It was clear that in the face of defeat the LTTE was increasing its attacks targeting innocent civilians. This is the reality that can be seen from these savage attacks," Rajapaksa added.

Defence analysts warned there could be more attacks as the Tigers come under pressure in the north from the Sri Lankan military.

"Although the Tigers are suffering heavy losses in the north they retain the ability to conduct terrorist attacks elsewhere in the country, something which may be demonstrated in the east of the country in the coming weeks," said John Drake, an intelligence analyst at AKE Group, a London-based security and political risk management firm. Earlier his month, a Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bomber crashed his motorbike into a police bus in the capital killing 12 people.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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