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Bus blast in Sri Lanka, 58 dead

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Sri Lanka

(CNN) -- An explosion has hit a passenger bus in northern Sri Lanka, killing at least 58 civilians, including 12 children, in the worst single act of violence since a 2002 ceasefire was signed.

The attack took place in the regional capital of Anuradh-Bura on Thursday morning, and authorities said they were uncertain if the blast was triggered by a land mine or a bomb.

More than 100 people were on board the bus, traveling to school and work, when the blast struck, also wounding 25 people.

Authorities blamed Tamil Tigers for the attack, and Reuters news agency said government jets bombed their positions in the island's northeast following the bus explosion.

The Tigers were quick to deny responsibility.

"We have no involvement whatsoever in this killing of innocent civilians," the head of the Tiger peace secretariat, S. Puleedevan, told Reuters.

The Tigers have been seeking their own homeland in the north and east of the island nation, which lies to the south of India.

A 2002 cease-fire brokered by Norway has broken down in recent months amid rebel attacks and government reprisals against Tamil strongholds.

Some 500 people have been killed since early April, Reuters reports, and many now fear a slide back into the island's two decade civil war.

Last month the European Union listed the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist group alongside Al Qaeda.

More than 65,000 people on both sides have been killed since the Tigers began fighting in 1983 to create a separate state for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million Tamils, alleging discrimination by the country's 14 million Sinhalese.

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