Blast in Sri Lankan bus, 24 killed, 40 wounded(Second Lead)

April 25th, 2008 - 11:57 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 25 (IANS) A powerful bomb blast in a crowded passenger bus killed 24 civilians and wounded at least 40 others on the outskirts of the Sri Lanka capital Colombo Friday evening, military sources said. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the blast took place just a few minutes after a packed Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) bus at Piliyantala bus stand left for the nearby town of Kahapola.

“At least 24 civilians, including a Buddhist priest, a child and seven women, were killed in the blast that took place inside a crowded bus,” Brig. Nanayakkara told IANS on phone. Nanayakkara blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the blast.

“The LTTE terrorists have carried out this cowardly bomb attack targeting innocent civilians who were returning home,” he said, adding that the wounded had been rushed to hospitals at Kalubowila and Colombo.

The explosion took place barely hours after the Colombo police recovered a powerful roadside bomb in the heart of the city. Police said they had recovered a claymore mine weighing about 11 kg that was concealed in a parcel from Wolfendhal Street following a tip off from a resident.

The latest bomb blast occurred when government troops are locked in heavy fighting with the LTTE in the country’s north, where at least 150 combatants were killed and over 500 wounded in a bloody battle Wednesday.

Sri Lanka claimed Friday that its troops had captured the Catholic Madhu church in the northwestern district of Mannar from the Tamil Tigers.

“The Sri Lanka Army has liberated the sacred Madhu shrine by beating off the occupying LTTE terrorists. The soldiers of 8 Sri Lanka Light Infantry reached the shrine as the terrorists beat a retreat unable to withstand the army advance,” the defence ministry said.

“Army troops are clearing the surroundings of the church as there is a strong possibility that the terrorists have booby trapped the church building,” the ministry said.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Air Force Friday claimed that its fighter jets have targeted and damaged a suspected LTTE base located in the Iranaimadu jungle in Kilinochchi.

“The raid was launched around 9.30 a.m, after having verified the target through air surveillance and ground intelligence. The base was located inside the jungle patch, southeast of a LTTE runway in Iranaimadu,” a statement from the air force said.

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