Colombo train blast kills eight, leaves 73 injured (Third Lead)

May 26th, 2008 - 11:58 pm ICT by admin  

Colombo, May 26 (IANS) A powerful bomb blast, which ripped through a crowded rail coach at the edge of the Sri Lankan capital, has killed eight civilians and wounded 73 others, witnesses and officials said. The deafening blast occurred as the train packed with people returning after work from Colombo to their homes in the country’s Sinhalese-majority south neared the Dehiwela railway station around 4.45 p.m.

“Eight civilians, including a pregnant mother, were killed and 73 were wounded in the powerful parcel bomb explosion inside the Colombo-Panadura train,” military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told IANS by phone.

Nanayakkara, quoting initial investigations, said the parcel bomb is suspected to have been placed near the roof in the fourth carriage of the train.

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

“The LTTE, which is desperately trying to divert the attention of the troops away from the northern battle theatres, should take the responsibility for this blast,” Nanayakkara said, adding that additional police and military personnel have been rushed to the blast site to carry out investigation.

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.

They said the coastal train services, which were temporarily suspended in the aftermath of the blast, have resumed. 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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