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DATE=1/7/2000 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SRI LANKA SECURITY (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-257866 BYLINE=VANDANA CHOPRA DATELINE=COLOMBO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The Sri Lankan government has lifted the overnight curfew in the capital Colombo and its suburbs after detaining hundreds of ethnic Tamils for questioning. Vandana Chopra has the details from Colombo. TEXT: Government officials say the 12-hour curfew was necessary because of recent suicide attacks by the Tamil rebels. The curfew was lifted an hour and a half earlier than scheduled. Police officials say hundreds of Tamils have been detained by police in the search operation that began at midnight, Thursday. Almost 5-thousand police and soldiers, combed Colombo city and its suburbs after the government imposed a surprise curfew when it received intelligence reports that several rebel suicide bombers had infiltrated the city. Witnesses say soldiers and police were cordoning off select areas asking people for their identification papers. Banks, stock exchanges, schools and offices were closed and Colombo streets had a deserted look as nobody was allowed to enter or leave the city. Government officials say the curfew was put into force for the safety of the city's residents. The security clampdown comes just after Wednesday's bomb blast that killed 12 people and wounded 27 others in Colombo. The explosion was triggered by a suspected Tamil rebel suicide bomber near Prime Minsiter Sirimavo Bandaranaike's office in Colombo. This was the third bombing in recent weeks blamed on tiger separatists. Last month President Chandrika Kumaratunga, was injured by shrapnel in an assasination bid by a suspected Tamil rebel suicide bomber, on the last day of presidential election campaigning. A second bomb exploded the same night nearby at an opposition election rally. More than two dozen people were killed and scores injured. Tiger rebels are fighting for a separate homeland for the minority Tamil commnunity in Sri Lanka's north and east. (SIGNED) NEB/VC/PLM 07-Jan-2000 07:38 AM EDT (07-Jan-2000 1238 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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