COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Police today detained 15 suspects in a suicide bombing that killed 23 people, including a popular Cabinet minister, and Sri Lanka's president urged against retaliatory attacks on the Tamil minority.
Mobs on Wednesday threw stones at Tamil-owned shops in Ratmalana, an industrial suburb of the capital, Colombo, where the explosion occurred. There were no reports of injuries, but authorities imposed a nighttime curfew.
No one has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bombing. The government blamed the explosion, which also injured 60 people, on Tamil Tiger rebels who have been fighting since 1983 to establish a separate homeland for the country's 3.2 million Tamils.
Industrial Development Minister Clement V. Gooneratne was assassinated during a fund-raiser for families of soldiers slain in the war against Tamil rebels. Gooneratne's wife, Shyama, died of her injuries today, Dr. W.G. Gunawardena, the director of Kalubowila Hospital said.
The government had declared Wednesday its first War Heroes Day to boost the morale of the 40,000 troops fighting the rebels in northern Jaffna peninsula.
Police detained 15 men early today as suspects. The men were taken from nearby apartments and houses and were being interrogated, according to a local police official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
President Chandrika Kumaratunga appealed for calm, saying the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were trying to ''inflame communal passions by provoking the people.''
''I appeal to all Sri Lankans to consider this earnestly and act with patience to maintain peace at this hour,'' Kumaratunga said.
Kumaratunga was blinded in the right eye when a woman suicide bomber tried to assassinate her in December.
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