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Bomb explodes on bus in Sri Lanka

©

Latest update : 2008-02-23

A parcel bomb exploded on a bus in a Colombo suburb on Saturday, wounding at least 17 people in the latest in a string of violent attacks, the defence ministry said.


MOUNT LAVINIA, Sri Lanka, Feb 23 (Reuters) - A suspected
Tamil Tiger bomb blast destroyed a passenger bus on the
outskirts of the Sri Lankan capital on Saturday, wounding at least 17
people, but no-one was killed.
 

The military said deaths were averted after a female
passenger spotted a suspect parcel on the bus and informed the
driver and conductor, who then evacuated the bus in the town of
Mount Lavinia, just south of Colombo.
 

It was the latest in a series of bombings in recent months
blamed on the rebels, who want a separate state in the Indian
Ocean island's north and east.
 

A Reuters witness saw the charred, mangled wreckage of the
bus, its rear blown completely apart.
 

"One lady has seen a suspicious parcel and informed the
driver and conductor. They got everyone off the bus, and then
the driver moved the bus 10-15 metres away from the bus stop,"
said military spokesman Bridagier Udaya Nanayakkara.
 

"They should be commended. No-one was killed," he added,
saying the wounded included an 8-month-old child. "It was
definitely the Tigers."
 

The Tigers were not immediately available for comment on
the blast, but routinely deny involvement in attacks
increasingly focused on civilians as a 25-year civil war enters
a new phase.
 

The attack came a day after the Tigers, notorious for
tit-for-tat attacks, said Sri Lankan government fighter jets
killed eight civilians, including three young children, in an
air raid on their northern stronghold.
 

Fighting between the military and Tigers has intensified
since the government formally pulled out of a six-year-old
ceasefire pact in January, though a renewed war has been raging
since 2006.
 

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's government argues the Tigers
used the truce to re-arm and were not sincere about talking
peace. It has vowed to crush them militarily, and has captured
large swathes of rebel-held territory in the east.
 

But analysts say neither side is winning, with the Tigers
regularly hitting back with suicide attacks and roadside bombs.
 

The violence hurt tourist arrivals last year, which fell 12
percent from a year earlier, while the stock market slid nearly
7 percent in 2007, with some businesses shelving investment
plans.

Date created : 2008-02-23

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