International condemnation was focused
on the LTTE as it blasted a state owned bus with powerful
claymore mines killing 61 and injuring 40 passengers seriously
The incident occurred at 7.50 AM near
the remote hamlet of Kongollewa. The commuters were all from the
village of Yakawewa from where they boarded the CTB bus bound
for Kebithigollewa and from there they were to proceed to
Kachchikudi in Vavuniya to attend a funeral of a home guard
killed by the LTTE.
Two Buddhist monks also died in the
Speaking to The Island from the
Kebitigollawa Hospital, a survivor, N. Dissanayake said that
there were over 100 passengers in the ill-fated bus and they
were heading for the funeral of his nephew in Vavuniya. He also
said among the men, women, children and Buddhist monks in the
bus there were also about 15 home guards.
"I was standing on the foot board of
the overcrowded bus when there were two huge explosions. The bus
was thrown a distance of about 25 to 30 meters. That is all I
remember", he added.
Military spokesman Brig. Prasad
Samarasinghe said that was the single largest incident in which
so many people had been killed and injured since the ceasefire
agreement was signed with the LTTE in 2002.
At yesterday’s Cabinet press briefing
Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said that the matter had been
conveyed to the Tokyo Co-Chairs and the government was awaiting
their response. He appealed to the people not get provoked by
the brutal terrorist attacks and help defeat their evil
intention of creating trouble.
The United National Party promptly
condemned the incident and SLMM said they had sent a team to the
place of the incident and they would soon issue a statement.
The Catholic Church too expressed
shock. In a statement Bishop of Anurdhapura Rev. Norbert M.
Andradi said that he was shocked and saddened on hearing the
news of the unwanted brutal attack on civilian life and
condemned the attack on innocent civilians in the strongest
terms possible. He appealed for calm and restraint and conveyed
his deepest sympathies for the affected families.
Following the incident the Sri Lanka
Navy launched an artillery barrage on identified LTTE positions
in the Sampur area in the Trincomalee district while Sri Lanka
Air Force bombed certain LTTE positions in Mullaitivu.
Casualties were not known.