At least five killed, 50 injured in Sri Lanka bus blast


dpa German Press Agency
Published: Friday January 5, 2007


Colombo- At least five persons were killed and over 50
injured in an explosion inside a bus close to Sri Lanka's capital on
Friday evening, police said.
The blast happened at Nittambuwa, 27 kilometres east of Colombo,
on the main highway between the capital and central Sri Lanka, police
said.

Government Defence Ministry spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella
immediately blamed the rebels of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE) for the attack.

"Past records of the LTTE show that they target civilians and
there is no doubt that they were responsible for the attack", he
said.

A witness speaking from the site said: "The bus caught fire soon
after the explosion and the people are trying to put down the fire
and remove the injured."

The bus was heading from Nittambuwa to Giriulla in the north-
western part of the country, carrying mainly civilians belonging to
the majority Sinhalese community.

Police said the bomb had been placed inside the private bus and
had ripped it apart. The blast happened when the roads were crowded
and most people were returning home after work.

Police closed down the main road to evacuate casualties. At least
10 of the injured were said to be in a critical condition.

The explosion followed the deaths of four policemen in the eastern
part of the island and two government officials in north-eastern Sri
Lanka.

The four police were killed in a claymore mine blast in the Ampara
area, 320 kilometres east Colombo. The two officials were killed in
an explosion in Nedunkerny, a rebel-controlled area, 360 kilometres
north east of the capital on Friday.

On Tuesday, 15 minority Tamil civilians were killed when the air
force bombed suspected rebel targets in the north western Mannar
district.

A Roman Catholic bishop in the area said all those killed were
civilians, but the government insisted a confirmed rebel target had
been hit.

Fighting in northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka has escalated
over the 12 months, claiming at least 3,000 lives.

© 2006 - dpa German Press Agency