Bombing Marks End of Sri Lankan Cease-Fire

At least 25 people were killed after suicide bomber attacked bus.

ByABC News
February 9, 2009, 11:23 AM

Jan. 16, 2008 — -- Twenty-five people were killed and more than 60 were injured after a bomb exploded on a bus carrying mostly schoolchildren in Sri Lanka early this morning.

The attack occurred in the remote town of Buttala, about 150 miles southeast of Colombo.

After the bomb exploded, passengers fled the bus, only to be fired upon by gunmen, witnesses told the Associated Press.

"Everyone that got out through the doors, they shot and killed," a 25-year-old passenger who gave his name as Sampath told the AP. "I jumped from the window and just escaped."

Three soldiers were injured in a second roadside bomb in the same region.

The Sri Lankan government officially ended its six-year cease-fire with the Tamil Tigers today, although fighting in the small war-torn island nation south of India has escalated in recent months.

Just last week the construction minister of Sri Lanka was assassinated the second member of Parliament to be killed in January.

Norway had brokered a peace deal between the two sides in 2002. The Sri Lankan government's decision to end the cease-fire agreement has been widely criticized by peace mediators and international governments.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said he abandoned the cease-fire because it wasn't working and the rebels used it as a cover to build up their military strength, according to the AP.

Fighting between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger rebels broke out in 1983, when the rebels began to push for their own state. The mostly Hindu Tamil minority wants an independent state, claiming discrimination by the majority Buddhist Sinhalese.

More than 70,000 people have been killed since fighting broke out two decades ago. In the last two years during the time of the cease-fire more than 5,000 people have been killed.