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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2967

Suspected Tamil Tigers bomb kills six civilian bus passengers, and sixty three injured - eleven reported in serious condition

By Walter Jayawardhana

Colombo, 06 January, ( A bomb planted in a civilian passenger bus exploded during the evening rush hours killing six people and injuring sixty three other passengers who were admitted to nearby hospitals, Friday January 5.

Sri Lanka’s defense spokesman of the cabinet Keheliya Rambukwella blamed the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the blast for exploding a RDX bomb in the bus. He said the explosion that apparently took place underneath a seat of a privately owned bus had all the hallmarks of the terrorist group.

At least 63 civilians including two children suffered injuries in the blast. The hospital sources revealed that eleven of the injured are in a serious condition. The seriously injured patients including the two children were transferred to the National Hospital Colombo Friday night. Three of the injured admitted to National hospital are reportedly in a critical condition.

The current military action in Sri Lanka was kick started by a similar bus explosion that took place in a different district, at Kebithigollewa killing 65 civilian passengers few months ago. In that instant the bombs were exploded from outside of a bus by the LTTE, according to the Nordic Ceasefire Monitors in the country.

The blast happened 27 kilometers (20 miles) east of the country’s capital Colombo on the Colombo - Kandy highway. Police said the critically injured passengers were also admitted to North Colombo teaching hospital. Other passengers were admitted to Gampaha and Wathupitiwela provincial hospitals. Two passengers died immediately after admission to the hospital. The other four died instantly after the explosion severely injured by the steel ball bearing missiles of the bomb.

A girl injured and admitted in the Wathupitiwela hospital said she was traveling in the middle of the bus when explosion occurred in the rear left end of the bus with a deafening explosion. Since the explosion she could not hear she said. She managed to get out of the bus filled with smoke and on fire through the rear seat. Another bus passenger said close to the left rear wheel of the bus the body was ripped open by the blast.

The driver of the bus who was not injured said the Muslim driver of the bus took day off since it was a Friday and he was only on relief duty.

Keheliye Rambukwella , the governing cabinet’s Defense spokesman said in the past the terrorist group the Tamil Tigers have targeted civilians by bomb explosions.

An eyewitness said, immediately after the explosion, the bus caught fire and nearby onlookers rushed to douse it to rescue the bleeding and screaming passengers.

The bus was plying from Nittambuwa to Giriulla and carrying passengers belonging to the Sinhalese majority community going home after work on the Colombo- Kandy main highway.

Nittambuwa police said their initial investigations with the assistance of forensic experts show that the bomb explosion took place inside the bus and the explosion had ripped it apart. They said a 3-2 kilogram RDX bomb had been hidden underneath a seat. The LTTE is the only group that possesses plastic explosives in the country and who have the technical know how to put together a similar bomb.

The police immediately cordoned off the main road for other traffic to ease the evacuation of the injured to nearby hospitals. Hospital authorities said the condition of about ten passengers who were treated were in a critical condition. When the explosion occurred the road was very crowded creating additional problems for the evacuation.

The police also declared curfew and started a search operation in the area for suspects. The declared curfew was restricted to Nittambuwa police area and they said would last until 6 a.m. Saturday. The explosion occurred 6.35 p.m. January 5 Friday within the Nittambuwa town near Damro showroom.

The explosion occurred in a pattern of LTTE roadside explosions on Friday Immediately before four policemen were killed in a claymore mine blast 320 kilometers East of Colombo at Ampara in the country’s restive Eastern Province. On the same day two civilian government officials belonging to the agriculture department were killed in a similar roadside bomb at Nedunkerny , while traveling in a government jeep.

The LTTE is a terrorist organization fighting for a mono-ethnic separate state in the country since 1983 and is banned in the United States, Canada, the European Union countries and the neighboring India.

Army and Special Task Force soldiers gather at the site of a bus bomb explosion in Nittambuwa, 36 km (20 miles) north of ColomboArmy and Special Task Force soldiers gather at the site of a bus bomb explosion in Nittambuwa, 36 km (20 miles) north of Colombo

A victim of a bus bomb explosion receives treatment in Wathupitiwala hospital in Nittambuwa, 36 kilometers (20 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka January 5, 2007A victim of a bus bomb explosion receives treatment in Wathupitiwala hospital in Nittambuwa, 36 kilometers (20 miles) north of Colombo, Sri Lanka January 5, 2007

- Asian Tribune –

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