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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sri Lanka Bomb Kills Dozens

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Suspected Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebels killed 61 people in a mine ambush on a bus on Thursday in the worst attack since a 2002 truce, officials said, prompting a wave of air strikes on rebel positions.

The government said the rebels used two mines side by side, peppering the packed bus with ball bearings on an isolated road near rebel territory. Fifty-eight people died at the scene and three others in a hospital, police said.

Most on the bus were from the island's majority Sinhalese community. The government said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, wanted to provoke an ethnic backlash against minority Tamils to support their demands for a separate Tamil homeland.

"We have to seriously consider the cease-fire agreement and possibly restructure it," government spokesman Kehilya Rambukwella told a news conference.

The Tigers denied involvement in the attack. Few have believed their denials of responsibility for similar attacks on the military. More than 500 people have died since early April, and many fear the island risks a return to civil war.

"We have no involvement whatsoever in this killing of innocent civilians," said the head of the Tiger peace secretariat, S. Puleedevan. "The Sri Lankan government has a responsibility to investigate law and order in their territory."

Rebel media coordinator Daya Master said the government had launched air raids on northeastern coastal areas of the rebels' territory.