Sri Lanka’s top minister among 10 killed in bomb blast

April 6th, 2008 - 11:42 am ICT by admin  

(Second Lead)
By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 6 (IANS) At least 10 people including a top Sri Lankan cabinet minister were killed and over 50 people wounded in a powerful bomb blast Sunday morning in Sri Lanka’s Gampaha district, located just outside the capital city of Colombo, defence sources said. The bomb went off minutes before the commencement of a traditional marathon race held as part of the ‘Hindu-Sinhala’ festival event at Waliweriya in Gampaha in the Western Province.

“According to the available information, Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who was the chief guest to the occasion along with many civilians has been killed in the cowardly bomb attack,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement, blaming the Tamil Tiger rebels for the blast.

“The bomb was exploded just before the minister declared the start of the marathon at the Kanthi play ground, in Waliweriya,” the ministry said.

According to the ministry, over 50 people including Gampaha Division Senior Superintendent of Police Hector Darmasiri were wounded and admitted to the General Hospital at Gampaha.

Minister of Highways and Road Development Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was a close confidant of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the chief government whip in parliament.

He was also the treasurer and chief organizer of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Meanwhile, government spokesman and Minister of Media Anurapriyadharshana Yapa confirmed that Fernandopulle was killed in a suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) suicide bomb blast and declared that the government was committed to wiping out terrorism in the island nation.

Police have cordoned off the area and commenced a search operation.

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