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Sri Lanka says to bomb Tigers till "terrorism" ends

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Sri Lanka will continue to attack Tamil Tiger rebel positions until Tiger “terrorism” is completely defeated, the prime minister told parliament on Thursday, a day after two separate explosions rocked the capital Colombo.

Police officers survey the scene of a bomb explosion, a day after the attack, near a shopping centre in a Colombo suburb November 29, 2007. Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers killed 18 people in two bomb attacks in the capital Colombo on Wednesday, the military said, a day after the group's leader said he saw no hope of a peace deal to end the civil war. REUTERS/ Buddhika Weerasinghe

The blasts killed 21 people, including two victims who died in hospital on Thursday and a suicide bomber.

Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake told parliament the government was able to weaken the Tamil Tiger rebels and will continue to attack them.

“We are sure of our targets, those are not civilian targets. We will continue air strikes until the terrorism is eradicated,” the prime minister told parliament, when a member of a rebel-backed cluster of minority Tamil parties asked the government to stop air raids in rebel-held areas as civilians were being killed by the strikes.

Fighting has been intense in recent months, with almost daily land and sea battles, bombings and air raids.

More than 5,000 people have been killed in clashes between the military and the rebels since early 2006.

Wednesday’s blasts came a day after Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran accused the international community of pandering to the government.

In an annual address, he said he had no hope of a political settlement with the state to end the civil war and vowed that the guerrillas would fight on for an independent state.

Following the Wednesday explosions, the government declared schools in the Western province, which includes the capital, to be closed as a security measure.

The military had also requested the public to be extra vigilant and report suspicious items to security forces.

A government offensive has pushed the Tigers from strongholds in the east, and its troops are trying to wipe out the rebels entirely despite international calls for peace talks.

The death toll since the war erupted in 1983 is around 70,000 people, and analysts say the conflict is likely to grind on for years.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Jerry Norton