updated 6/15/2008 11:43:36 PM ET 2008-06-16T03:43:36

A suicide bomber on a motorbike blew himself up near a police building in a northern Sri Lankan town, killing 12 people and wounding 23 others, the military said Monday.

The bomber was targeting police officers and civilians on the street in the town of Vavuniya, military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said.

It was still unknown how many police and civilians were killed in the blast, he said.

The country's north has been the scene of fighting between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels. On Sunday, the air force said it destroyed a rebel base in the area.

The rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, who have faced decades of marginalization by governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese.

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