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 Post subject: 15 killed in second bus explosion near Hikkaduwa - updated
 Post Posted: Sat Jan 06, 2007 3:33 pm 
LTTE trigger another bus bomb killing and wounding civilians
AT least 15 people killed and many more wounded

A powerful bomb ripped through a passenger bus killing and wounding civilians at Seenigama, near the Kahawa junction after Hikkaduwa, at 02.35 p.m. today. At least 15 passengers were killed and many others were taken to the Karapitiya hospital. Remains of two bodies suspected to be LTTE female suicide bombers were recovered scattered at the scene.

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Source © Ministry of Defence/ Agencies / LL
January 06, 2007


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: AT least 15 people were killed and many more wounded in southern Sri Lanka on Saturday when a powerful bomb went off inside a crowded bus, the second such attack in two days, the military said, blaming the attack on Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

The blast occurred inside a privately-owned bus travelling from the town of Matara to the capital Colombo.

The bomb ripped through the passenger bus killing and wounding civilians at Seenigama, near the Kahawa junction (near Hikkaduwa), 16 miles North West of Galle , at 02.35 p.m. today.

"At least 15 passengers were killed and the others were taken to the Karapitiya hospital,'' police said. Police sources suspect the explosion to be a suicidal attack.

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The Ambalangoda Police said that 10 bodies were transferred to the General hospital at Balapitiya. The Police sources further said that more than 40 civilians are feared seriously injured due to the explosion. Remains of two bodies suspected to be LTTE female suicide bombers were recovered scattered at the scene.

However, according to the government analyst assessment, the device used had been a time bomb weighing one kilogram placed in one of the rear seats in the bus. Police said the blast bore all the signs of an LTTE terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, Karapitiya hospital sources confirmed that 08 casualties were immediately brought for intensive medical treatment and said that two were in serious status.

The bus had just passed the tourist resort town of Hikkaduwa when the bomb went off along the main coastal highway of Galle Road. The bus driver is reported to have survived the blast and even managed to drive the bus some 15 metres away from the explosion site, police said. He is currently being treated at Karapitiya hospital for shock and injuries.

The traffic along the Galle - Colombo (A-2), is being diverted and the commuters are advised to use alternative routes.

The attack was similar to a bus blast Friday when six passengers were killed and another 70 wounded near Colombo. The military blamed that attack on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The military said that powerful C4 plastic explosives had been used in the Friday explosion.

Earlier on Saturday, three bomb blasts were reported in the north of the country, one of which killed four soldiers and a civilian.

The incident occurred when a roadside bomb exploded near a truck transporting troops in the northern district of Vavuniya.



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 Post subject: "Brutal attackswould not deter counter-terror operatio
 Post Posted: Sun Jan 07, 2007 6:31 pm 
"Brutal attacks on civilians would not deter counter-terror operations" - Government

"Clear evidence that Tiger guerillas had started targeting civilians in the south in a bid to divert the military from operations in the north and east." - Military

@ ST /Sunday, January 7, 2007

A second bus bomb in successive days saw at least 15 passengers killed and more than 40 wounded in an explosion inside a bus at Godagama near Hikkaduwa yesterday. However, the government vowed such brutal attacks on civilians would not deter it from counter-terror operations in the north and east.

The explosion barely 24 hours after a similar blast on a bus at Nittambuwa, senior security officials said was clear evidence that Tiger guerillas had started targeting civilians in the south in a bid to divert the military from operations in the north and east.

However, there were conflicting reports on how yesterday’s explosion had occurred. Meetiyagoda’s police inspector G. Gunasena said initial reports indicated that a parcel bomb placed on the hood rack at the rear end of the bus had caused the explosion.

But Southern Province Deputy Inspector General Jayantha Gamage said a woman who had a parcel on her lap was believed to have triggered the explosion. Her charred body was inside the bus till late evening and was removed to the Karapitiya Hospital.

After the explosion the bus virtually went out of control and ran a distance of 20-30 metres before it was brought to a halt by the driver, the DIG said. Hours after the blast, President Mahinda Rajapaksa met service commanders and senior police officers at Temple Trees and discussed the current situation and measures necessary to ensure security to the people.

Last evening Meetiyagoda Police were awaiting the arrival of officials from the Government Analyst’s Department to conduct tests which could prove how the explosion occurred inside the private bus plying from Colombo to Matara around 2. 20 p.m.

Among the injured, the condition of ten was said to be serious and they are under intensive care at the Karapitiya and Balapitiya hospitals. The Leyland bus had left Pettah around 11.30a.m and had stopped along the way to pick up and drop passengers. Bus driver Rukmal Mahendra, one of the few who escaped unhurt, said that the bus was suddenly shaken by an explosion and he managed to bring it to a stop as soon as he could.

The conductor who was in front had been moving towards the rear end of the bus to issue tickets when the blast took place, he said. The conductor is believed to be among the injured. Eyewitness Jeevantha Lakmal, who was coming behind the bus on a motorbike, said that as he was trying to overtake the bus, he heard a blast. “There was a ball of fire from inside the bus and two or three persons were thrown out. I was hit by shrapnel and injured,” he said.

A vendor said he heard the blast and saw the bus in a ball of fire. He said he and a few more persons got into the bus and brought the wounded passengers out. “We saw a lot of wounded passengers. Some were dead,” he said.

Nineteen-year-old Mohammed Ashrif, who was among the injured, said he and four of his friends were going home after attending an A/L tuition class in Beruwala when the tragic incident happened. “We were seated in the middle section of the bus and suddenly we heard a loud noise from the rear side. Many people were injured and those who could move struggled to get out”, he said.

Military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe yesterday blamed the LTTE for both bomb explosions, saying it was apparent that the Tigers were trying to divert the military from their operations in the east and the north. The bodies of the victims were taken to the Balapitiya Hospital, but by last evening only three had been identified.

A large number of civilians also rushed to the scene to help move the victims to hospitals while police diverted traffic on this stretch of the Galle Road. Balapitiya’s Acting Magistrate Samantha Thabrew and Galle’s Judicial Medical Officer Dr. U.R.P Perera visited the scene last evening for inquiries.

As police investigation began, detectives said three suspects had been taken in for questioning. Meanwhile the government in a statement condemned the LTTE attacks as acts of brutality.

The Media Centre for National Security said the government believed that the LTTE was attempting to divert attention from the continuous defeats it had been suffering at the hands of the security forces in the recent past. “At a time when the security forces are successfully carrying out counter-terrorist measures to restore civil administration in the North and East, the LTTE has resorted to terror attacks in the south to disrupt normalcy,” the MCNS said. “The government reiterates that terror attacks will not deter its efforts to find a peaceful solution to the national problem or its measures to defeat terrorism.

“The LTTE's terror attacks will only strengthen the government’s resolve to defeat terrorism and restore normalcy in the North and East,” it said.

Security tightened on buses, trains

In the aftermath of two brutal attacks on private buses, the government yesterday ordered immediate measures for tighter security on buses and trains with all passengers and luggage to be closely checked.

An emergency meeting will be held today between private bus operators, Transport Minister A.H.M. Fowzie and the Police to work out and implement the new security measures.

Minister Fowzie told The Sunday Times that security on state-owned buses and trains had already been enhanced but it was the government’s responsibility to provide adequate security even for private buses.

“We will discuss the crisis measures with the Police and implement them immediately,” he said. Private Bus Operators Association President Gemunu Wijeratne said they would take immediate security measures to safeguard passengers.

“This is a crisis situation and we have sought an urgent meeting with the Transport Minister ,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Government yesterday advised the people not to travel in buses and trains that did not carry out security checks on baggage.

It said the passengers had the right to insist that the bus crews conduct security checks on all before boarding buses.

In a statement, the Media Centre for National Security said the government had told the Transport Board, all bus terminals and railway authorities to check luggage and other parcels of passengers before boarding.


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