Two bus bombings kill 23, injured 80 in Sri Lanka(Roundup)

June 6th, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, June 6 (IANS) At least 23 people were killed and about 80 injured Friday as suspected Tamil Tigers bombed two passenger buses in strife-hit Sri Lanka, triggering a furious response from President Mahinda Rajapaksa. A deafening blast triggered by remote control during morning rush hour killed 21 people and injured 60 near a university in Moratuwa town, south of Colombo. And just before 4 p.m., another bomb went off inside a bus in Kandy district, killing two people and wounding over 20.

At least seven people were in critical condition in hospitals.

The authorities blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the carnage. President Rajapaksa said that the LTTE was hitting back after suffering reverses at the hands of his military.

“This is further proof of the LTTE’s frenzy (over) its major military setbacks in the north and the loss of its hold on the eastern province,” he said.

The roadside bomb near the Moratuwa University, some 20 km south of Colombo, hit hard a bus on its way to Mount Lavinia, just outside the capital, causing mayhem. It was the third attack on public transport in two weeks.

The dead included 13 men and eight women. The explosion site was close to a Buddhist temple. The bus turned into a wreck.

Television channels showed footage of the bloodied site, wounded civilians soaked in blood being evacuated to the nearby hospitals.

The defence ministry said a claymore mine weighing five kilogrammes, a micro pistol and a “few war like items” were recovered from a privately owned land located along the Second Cross Street in Mount Lavinia.

The second explosion occurred inside a bus coming from Waththegama and going to the tea-growing hill town Kandy. When it reached a teachers’ training school 12 km north of Kandy, the bomb went off.

Two people were killed and 20 suffered multiple injuries.The injured were rushed to the Kandy district hospital.

People in the area caught a man they suspect was involved in the attack and handed him over to the police.

On Wednesday, 18 people were injured when a bomb targeting a passenger train exploded at Dehiwela, on the outskirts of Colombo.

On May 26, nine civilians were killed and nearly 100 wounded when a powerful bomb ripped through a crowded train coach, also in Dehiwela.

Rajapaksa Friday issued a statement condemning the latest attacks.

“The continued targeting of innocent civilians by the LTTE must earn the outrage and opprobrium of all civilised societies who can now see the reality of the LTTE’s unvarying commitment to violence and terror to achieve its narrow objectives,” the president said.

He said the motive behind the attack was “to provoke a backlash against the Tamil people” from members of the majority Sinhalese community.

“I call on the people to remain calm and not give in to deliberate provocations aimed at fanning communal hatred and violence, remain vigilant against the forces of terror, and continue to assist the police and security forces in the task of eradicating terrorism,” Rajapaksa said.

There was no reaction from the LTTE, which claimed May 27 that six civilians, including two children, died when a claymore mine exploded a day earlier in the area they hold. The Tigers blamed the military for the attack, but the authorities denied any involvement.

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