Four killed,28 hurt in City bomb blast
Tigers target bus carrying wounded soldiers
by Harischandra Gunaratna and Norman Palihawadana

Malitha Lasindu
Bandara (16)

Dissanayake (14)

The Tigers, reeling under intense military action on their Vanni strongholds, yesterday targeted a bus carrying a group of wounded and sick army personnel in Colombo close to Army Headquarters killing four and injuring 28. The majority of the soldiers in the bus were war wounded from the northern theatre of operations.

The ill-fated bus was on its way from the headquarters to an army medical facility at Narahenpita when a claymore mine blast, activated from inside Manning Mansions (Hotel Nippon), at Kumaran Rutnam Road, Slave Island, hit it at 9.30 a.m.

Among the dead were a soldier and three civilians, including a woman who was passing by at the time of the blast.

Military sources said the claymore mine exploded inside the hotel at its entrance when the bus approached.

"The Tigers had chosen the most strategic location to place the high explosive device, with prior information that the bus was moving on this particular route."

Intelligence reports had indicated that the Tigers were targeting the movement of military personnel and advised the changing of routes and the times of the movements. "But those responsible had not heeded these warnings making the innocent soldiers sitting ducks," an official said.

"Had not a private bus moving in the same direction tried to overtake the ill fated bus making the its driver slightly change its direction the fate of the soldiers would have been worse," an eye witness said.

Manning Mansions, one of Colombo’s oldest hotels was severely damaged. Its upholstery torn apart by the xplosion, was strewn across the road.

Forty-nine-year-old lorry driver Liyanage Piyaratne Perera, who was one of the first at the scene said a young man identified as Samera working for DPX Courier Service was writhing in pain as the motorcycle he was riding had fallen on him. "He had suffered severe abrasions as he was dragged on the road for a distance of 20-30 yards and was crying for help."

Of the 28 injured there were 11 army personnel and 17 civilians. Four of the injured including a soldier were in a serious condition and underwent surgery. They have been transferred to the Intensive Care Unit and are ‘out of danger’ now said Dr Hector Weerasinghe, Director National Hospital

At the time of the explosion a private bus had tried to overtake the bus transporting the soldiers.

The only two tourists in the hotel Luke De Vos from Belgium and Yoshitaka Saito from Japan were unaffected. They condemned the perpetrators and said terrorism should stop.

De Vos who has visited Sri Lanka for the sixth time said "I will continue my three-week holiday and I am determined to visit Sri Lanka again next year."

Young Saito, on his first visit to Sri Lanka, said "I am unmoved and will come to Sri Lanka again,"

Asked about their comments on the explosion they said "terrorism is everywhere and not confined to Sri Lanka, It’s a global phenomenon.

Deputy Tourism Minister Faizer Musthapha, the first politician to visit the scene, said "the Tourism Ministry will move the two tourists to another hotel and the government will meet their expenses."

He was confident that tourism will not suffer due to incidents of this nature.


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