updated 9/28/2008 2:28:56 PM ET 2008-09-28T18:28:56

A suspected Tamil Tiger rebel suicide bomber blew up near a vehicle carrying police in a northern Sri Lankan town Sunday, killing a civilian and wounding eight others, the military said.

Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said four police in the vehicle, three soldiers on duty nearby and a civilian bystander were wounded in the blast in the town of Vavuniya.

Nanayakkara said it was still unknown whether the bomber, who was also killed, was a man or a woman.

Rebel officials could not be reached for comment, but the insurgents have made suicide bombings a hallmark of their 25-year struggle against the government to create an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils.

The rebels, banned as a terrorist group in the United States and European Union, are said to have carried out more than 240 suicide bombings against military, political and economic targets.

The blast came as fierce clashes between government troops and the rebels killed 10 guerrillas and two soldiers, the military said.

Also, the air force used fighter jets and helicopters in a series of bombings on rebel positions in Kilinochchi and Welioya regions, the statement said without giving details.

Rebel officials could not be reached for comment because most communication lines to the north have been cut.

The government has vowed to retake all rebel areas by the end of this year and says its troops are just three miles from Kilinochchi.

The conflict stems from allegations that ethnic Tamils have been systematically marginalized by governments controlled by majority ethnic Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the violence.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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