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Sri Lankan violence brings a nationwide emergency

A state of emergency throughout Sri Lanka was imposed as troops were called out to quell violence between the majority Sinhalese community and the minority Tamils, a government spokesman said.

Opposition leaders, whose Tamil United Liberation Front is demanding a separate state for the island's 1.4 million Tamils, said four members of the minority community were killed and heavy property damage was caused in the violence.

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Although no specific country was named, government officials said there was evidence of a "foreign hand" behind the violence, the second flare-up since communal violence erupted last June in the northern district of Jaffna.