Colombo suicide blast kills nine, 95 wounded

May 16th, 2008 - 5:40 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, May 16 (IANS) Seven police personnel and two civilians were killed and some 95 wounded when a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into a police bus in the heart of the busy Sri Lankan capital at midday Friday. The attack occurred close to Hotel Hilton, opposite a Buddhist temple known as Sambodhi Vihar and also not far from the heavily guarded office of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkar told IANS that the dead included seven police personnel, three of them women, and two civilians who were passing by.

“An LTTE suicide cadre riding a motorcycle rammed onto a police bus carrying anti-riot squad police personnel,” Nanayakkara said. The military blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the attack.

There was panic as the bomb exploded with a deafening roar. It was heard in large parts of Colombo.

Among the injured were personnel from the police and other security forces as well as civilians.

According to the military spokesman, the LTTE suicide cadre targeted the bus in the Fort area, also close to the office of the state-run Lake House group of newspapers.

A couple of other police vehicles were also damaged in the powerful blast, which was heard in large parts of Colombo.

A man in the area said the explosion was so massive that he first thought there had been a major earthquake.

Said Nanayakkara: “Unable to face the military thrusts in the north, the LTTE has taken this opportunity to (attack security forces).”

The authorities quickly closed the road for investigations, creating huge traffic snarls.

Hector Weerasinghe, director of the Accidental Services of the Colombo National Hospital, said that 95 patients were brought to the hospital with multiple injuries. “Nine people were dead on admission.”

“Our statistics show that there are 30 police personnel and three soldiers among the injured in addition to civilians. They are undergoing various medical investigations. Depending on the nature of the injuries, they will be directed to other units in the hospital,” Weerasinghe told IANS.

He said about 15 patients had sustained serious injuries and were warded at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The attack occurred hours before President Rajapaksa was to swear in, at his office about 100 meters from the blast site, the newly elected members of the Provincial Council of the eastern province, which the military seized from the LTTE last year.

Chandrapala Liyanage, director of the Presidential Media Unit, said the swearing in ceremony “will take place as scheduled” at the Presidential Secretariat”.

President Rajapaksa, who has hailed the election outcome in the eastern province as a victory for democracy, charged the LTTE with “cowardice and brutality”.

“With this bomb attack on a busy street, the LTTE has again demonstrated its total commitment to violence and terror to achieve its separatist goals in Sri Lanka and its absolute contempt for democracy and human rights.

“Repeated savagery of this order underlines and reiterates the need for concerted action by all those who cherish democracy, human rights and the value of civilized society, to eradicate the menace of terrorism of which the LTTE remains the bloodiest example today.

“Your continued patience and restraint in the face of such undisguised savagery is the best way to assist the security forces to succeed in their operations to defeat terrorism in our country,” he said.

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