Sri Lanka Strikes Tamil Base After Minister Killed in Blast

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Sri Lankan air force jets destroyed a suspected training base for Tamil Tiger suicide attackers Monday, while new fighting in the civil war killed 49 rebels and one soldier, the military said.

The airstrike, which reportedly hit a so-called Black Tiger base in the rebel stronghold of Mankulam in the north, came a day after a suspected rebel suicide bomber killed a government minister, a former Olympian and 12 others at the starting line of a marathon.

The bombing was the second this year to kill a senior government official.

The United States, EU and Canada condemned Sunday's attack.

Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier said she was deeply concerned about "the worsening impact" of the conflict on civilians.

The Tamil Tigers have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils after decades of marginalization by governments run by the Sinhalese majority.

The suicide bombing Sunday struck as Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle prepared to signal the start of a marathon outside the capital, Colombo.

Fernandopulle, who was the government's chief political enforcer and a top rebel target, died on the spot. Thirteen others died, including former Olympic athlete K.A. Karunaratne and national athletics coach Lakshman de Alwis.

Lawmakers paid respects Monday to Fernandopulle in parliament, where his body lay in state. Prime Minister Rathnasiri Wickremanayake called for a harsh response against the rebels.

"We will have to strengthen further our activities against terrorism," he said.

The Tamil Tiger rebels, who have not commented on the attack, have been blamed for more than 240 suicide bombings and are listed as a terrorist group by the United States, European Union and India.