Five killed, scores wounded in Colombo train blast (Lead)

May 26th, 2008 - 8:11 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, May 26 (IANS) At least five civilians were killed and scores wounded when a powerful bomb ripped through a crowded train at Dehiwela on the outskirts of Colombo Monday evening, military sources said. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the explosion occurred around 4.45 p.m. in a train plying from Colombo to the southern town of Panadura. Military officials blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the horrific attack.

The spokesman said the wounded were evacuated to a hospital, with police and military personnel evacuating the wounded.

The train was packed with people going home to the country’s Sinhalese-majority south after the day’s work from Colombo.

Railway authorities said the train had left Maradana railway station at 4.25 pm and was nearing the Dehiwela station when the powerful bomb went off. Dehiwela is located at the edge of Colombo.

All coastal train services were temporarily suspended in the wake of the blast.

The explosion took place despite repeated calls by the police for enhanced vigilance by public and crew of both private and government transport sectors.

The military said two possible bomb attacks on public transport were averted Saturday when the police, acting on information provided by people, defused two powerful bombs inside two passenger buses at Ganemulla in Gampaha district and at Moratuwa in Colombo district.

Monday’s train explosion has come three days after the Tamil Tigers claimed that 16 civilians, including four children, were killed in a roadside bomb attack in the rebel-held area of Kilinochchi Friday.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) blamed the deep penetration unit of the army for the blast in Kilinochchi. But the military spokesman rejected this allegation, saying the “military does not operate in the rebel-held areas”.

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