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