Suicide bomber strikes in Colombo, eight die, 90 injured (Third Lead)

May 16th, 2008 - 3:09 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, May 16 (IANS) At least eight people, most of them policemen, were killed and over 90 injured when a suicide bomber rammed into a police van in the busy heart of the Sri Lankan capital Friday midday, officials and witnesses said. There were blood and body parts everywhere as the bomber, strapped with explosives, struck opposite a Buddhist temple called Sambodhi Vihara, close to Hilton Hotel and the office of the state-owned Lake House group of newspapers.

One official said six policemen and a civilian were killed instantly. Other officials put the death toll at eight and said at least some of the seriously injured were expected to succumb to their injuries.

The defence ministry blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the attack. A man in the area said the explosion was so massive that he first thought there had been a major earthquake.

Hector Weerasinghe, director of the Colombo National Hospital, said at least 75 people had been admitted to the hospital from injuries received in the attack.

The attack occurred hours before President Mahinda 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, a sprawling region the military seized from the LTTE only last year.

The winners in the elections that took place this month include former LTTE guerrillas who broke away in 2004 and now collaborate with the government to hunt down their former comrades.

The Sri Lankan military is now trying to advance into the LTTE held areas in the island’s north. Fighting between the two sides since late 2005 has left thousands dead and displaced many more from their homes in the northeast.

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