Tigers bomb Lankan buses: 23 killed | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 07, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 07, 2008

Tigers bomb Lankan buses: 23 killed

At least 23 people were killed and 67 wounded in Sri Lanka Friday in two Tamil Tiger bomb attacks on public buses packed with civilians, officials said.
A crowded state-run bus travelling just south of Colombo was peppered with red-hot shrapnel from a powerful fragmentation mine placed on the roadside.
"Twenty-one people have been killed, eight of them are women," police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera told AFP. At least 47 people were injured and admitted to the nearby hospitals.
Hours later, the rebels set off a bomb inside a bus in the central district of Kandy, killing two people and wounding 20. Police said they were holding a suspect in connection with the attack.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for both "cowardly attacks."
Survivors of the morning explosion said the bus was knocked sideways by the force of the explosion.
"I was standing in the middle of the bus when there was a loud noise and the whole bus toppled to the side," said 21-year-old office worker Shanika Priyadharshani while being bandaged up in hospital.
"I blacked out for a while. There was black smoke, people were dead around me. I shouted for help and someone pulled me out," she told AFP.
The defence ministry immediately sealed off the area, although no arrests have been reported. Police did, however, discover and diffuse another Claymore-type mine near the scene of the blast.
Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapakse accused the Tamil Tigers of trying to provoke the island's ethnic Sinhalese majority.
"This brutality... shows the efforts of the LTTE to provoke a backlash against the Tamil people from which it hopes to gain," he said.
The LTTE have carried out a string of attacks in and around Colombo in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, 18 people were hurt when suspected Tiger rebels set off a bomb alongside a packed commuter train, and on May 26 another attack on a commuter train killed nine people and wounded 84 others.
Each of the attacks came after the LTTE complained that government commandos, who operate in small groups known as "deep penetration units", have killed civilians in roadside bombings inside Sri Lanka's rebel-held north.
Hostilities have escalated sharply since the start of the year when the government pulled out of a truce with the Tigers, who are fighting to carve out a separate Tamil state within the Sinhalese-majority island.
Since then, both sides have traded allegations that each others' forces are deliberately targeting civilians.
Fighting in northern Sri Lanka on Thursday claimed 16 LTTE members and two soldiers, the defence ministry said Friday.
Casualty figures in the north are impossible to verify as journalists are barred from visiting front line areas or crossing into rebel-held territory.
The Sri Lankan government says that it now has the upper hand in the long-running conflict, with the defence ministry reporting that 4,081 Tamil Tigers and 339 government soldiers have been killed so far this year.

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