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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tamil Tigers Bomb Diplomatic Convoy

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Tamil Tigers killed seven people and injured 17 in an attack on a Pakistani Embassy convoy on Monday, the Sri Lankan military said, just hours after a suspected rebel front threatened to start bombing civilians in the capital.

The blast, about a kilometer from Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's residence, came after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or LTTE, said Sri Lankan air force jets bombed an orphanage in the northeast, killing 43 girls aged 15 to 18 and injuring 60.

"Definitely it's an LTTE attack on the Pakistani ambassador's car, but they missed and the backup vehicle got caught," a Sri Lankan military spokesman said.

Four military personnel and three civilians were killed in the blast, which bomb squad officials said was caused by a fragmentation mine inside a three-wheeler taxi.

With contact with the conflict-hit areas limited, the LTTE report on the bombing of the orphanage could not be immediately confirmed. UNICEF was sending a team to the orphanage.

The government accused the rebels of shelling civilian areas in the northern Jaffna Peninsula, saying it feared fatalities as the worst fighting since a 2002 ceasefire raged on. The Sri Lankan military said it had launched airstrikes on identified LTTE targets such as camps in the northeast. Aid workers estimate 100,000 people have been displaced during three weeks of fighting. Dozens are confirmed dead, and many fear the eventual death toll will be far higher.

The rebels, who ignored a government demand to surrender, are furious at Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's outright rejection of their demands for a separate ethnic homeland for Tamils in the island's north and east.

"They have mingled with civilians and are calling artillery fire onto the areas of the security forces," said Major Upali Rajapakse of the National Security Center. "It is falling in and around civilian areas. There has to be civilians dead."

Meanwhile, residents of the town of Jaffna flocked to shops to stockpile food after the army briefly lifted a curfew. With no prospect of fresh supplies from the country's south, prices of basic goods were soaring.

"We are used to being displaced, but this time it came about so suddenly we were ill-prepared," said Ledil Amaldas, 50. "I have 5,000 rupees [$48] with me," he said, standing in a long line to buy sugar and flour. "I hope we can manage for another 12 to14 days. After that I don't know what will happen."