Minister escapes suspected LTTE suicide assassination bid (Second Lead)

October 9th, 2008 - 6:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Oct 9 (IANS) A Sri Lankan cabinet minister Thursday escaped an assassination attempt by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber, who was the only one to die in the daring attack on the outskirts of Colombo. Seven people, including a deputy minister, were wounded in the deafening blast at Pirivena Junction in Boralasgamuwa, located about 10 km east of Colombo, around 1.15 p.m.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) blew himself up targeting the motorcade of Agricultural Minister Maithiripala Sirisena.

“Luckily the minister’s vehicle escaped the blast and he escaped unharmed. But one of his security vehicles got caught in the blast, wounding seven people including a deputy minister,” Brig. Nanayakkara told IANS.

Initial reports said that one of the minister’s security personnel was killed. “It is now confirmed that no one except the LTTE suicide cadre was killed.”

Hospital sources said that Deputy Minister Siripala Gamlath sustained only minor injuries.

A senior minister, Sirisena is also the general secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This is the second suicide attack in Sri Lanka within a week.

On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a function of the main opposition United National Party (UNP) in the northcentral district of Anuradhapura, killing 28 people including a retired major general.

Over 90 people were wounded in that blast and were undergoing treatment at the military hospital in Anuradhapura, about 200 km north of here.

Thursday’s explosion came as the United Nations, the US, Russia and the EU condemned Monday’s suicide attack.

The latest attack took place barely an hour before the arrival of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a two-day official trip to Colombo.

President Abbas is scheduled to hold talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Rajapaksa and senior government ministers.

In April, a former Sri Lankan minister, Jeyaraj Fernandopulle (55), was killed with 13 civilians in Gampaha district when a suspected LTTE suicide bomber exploded himself up at a public function.

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