21 killed, 50 injured in blast near Colombo (Second Lead)

June 6th, 2008 - 11:27 am ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, June 6 (IANS) At least 21 people were killed and 50 injured when a powerful bomb went off next to a packed public transport bus in Moratuwa on the outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital Friday, the defence ministry said. The bus took most of the blast impact. The roadside bomb, targeting the bus going from Kottawa to Mount Lavinia, went off at about 7.30 a.m. near the Moratuwa University, about 20 km south of Colombo on the Pilyandala-Kaddupedda road.

“LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) terrorists exploded a bomb targeting a crowded public transport bus close to the Shailabimbaramaya Buddhist temple at Katubedda, Moratuwa this morning. Twenty-one people, 13 men and eight women, were killed while over 50 were injured,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

The bus was badly damaged and the ministry said preliminary investigations revealed that “the terrorists exploded a roadside bomb, which had been triggered by remote control”.

Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said police and military teams have been rushed to the blast site to carry out a search, while the injured have been sent to hospitals in Kalubowila and Lunawa.

This is the third blast targeting public transport within two weeks in and around Colombo, amid fierce fighting between government troops and the Tamil Tigers in Mannar, Welioya and Wanni regions in the north of the country.

On Wednesday, 18 people were injured when a bomb targeting a passenger train exploded at Dehiwela, on the outskirts of Colombo.

On May 26, nine civilians were killed and over 90 wounded when a powerful bomb ripped through a crowded train coach, also in Dehiwela.

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