Seven killed, over 60 wounded in Colombo train blast (Second Lead)

May 26th, 2008 - 8:49 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, May 26 (IANS) At least seven civilians were killed and over 60 wounded Monday evening when a powerful bomb ripped through a crowded train coach at the edge of the Sri Lankan capital, witnesses and officials said. The deafening blast occurred as the train packed with people returning from Colombo to their homes in the country’s Sinhalese-majority south neared the Dehiwela railway station around 4.45 pm.

The authorities immediately blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“Seven civilians, including a pregnant mother, were killed and 62 suffered injuries when the LTTE terrorists exploded a bomb inside the Colombo-Panadura train,” a defence ministry report said.

Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the police and military personnel who rushed to the blast site removed the wounded to a hospital.

Railway authorities said the train left Maradana railway station at 4.25 p.m. and was reaching Dehiwela station when the powerful bomb went off.

All coastal train services were temporarily suspended in the wake of the terror attack. Tens of thousands travel to and from Colombo every day by trains.

The explosion occurred despite calls by the police for enhanced vigilance by the public and crew of private and government transport sectors.

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

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

The LTTE blamed the deep penetration unit of the army for the deaths in Kilinochchi. But the military rejected this allegation, saying the military does not operate in rebel areas.

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