Sri Lanka bus blast toll mounts - 26 dead, 64 wounded

April 26th, 2008 - 4:43 pm ICT by admin  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, April 26 (IANS) Two seriously wounded passengers of a bus bombing Friday evening on the outskirts of the Sri Lanka capital succumbed to their injuries in hospital Saturday, taking the toll to 26, military sources said. The bombing left 64 people injured. The toll Friday evening was 24 dead and 40 wounded.

Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the blast took place in a packed Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) bus just after it left the Piliyantala bus stand for the nearby town of Kahapola.

According to the military spokesman, the death included a Buddhist priest, a child and seven women. The powerful blast blew off the roof of the ill-fated bus.

The injured are being treated in hospitals at Kalubowila, Piliyantala and Colombo, the sources said.

Although no one has claimed responsibility, the military has blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“The LTTE, unable to face the military pressure in the northern battlefront, has carried out this cowardly bomb attack targeting innocent civilians who were returning home,” he said.

The latest blast occurred when government troops are locked in heavy fighting with the LTTE in the country’s north, where at least 150 combatants were killed and over 500 wounded in a bloody battle Wednesday.

Sri Lanka announced Friday that its troops had captured the Catholic Madhu church in the northwestern district of Mannar from the Tamil Tigers, claiming that the LTTE cadres had beaten a retreat from the shrine area unable to withstand the army advance.

Meanwhile, the defence ministry in a separate report said Saturday that “at least 18 LTTE were killed and similar numbers wounded” during sporadic clashes with the advancing government troops and the LTTE cadres in the Mannar, Vavuniya and Welioya on Friday.

“Troops made further strides into the non-liberated Wanni area after securing the sacred Madhu shrine from LTTE, in two fronts from Palampiddy and Thatchchanamarathamadu,” the ministry said, adding that only one soldier was injured during these clashes.

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