Troops prevent exodus after blast kills 26
LTTE shoots survivors
Children among victims
Fleeing LTTE kill 5 farmers
Mine injures 3 soldiers
by Norman Palihawadena

The government managed to prevent an exodus of people from some parts of the Monaragala district after the LTTE targeted an SLTB bus carrying over 100 passengers. The blast which was followed by shooting claimed the lives of 26 civilians. 67 persons including 10 school children were injured and hospitalised.

The LTTE killer squad opened fire on the survivors while there were struggling to escape. Later they shot indiscriminately at farmers, while on the run, killing all five of them in a nearby village.

Some of those who were seriously injured were flown to the National Hospital Colombo while the rest were warded at the Monaragala and Buttala Hospitals.

The National hospital dispatched a team of doctors with medicines to Monaragala immediately after the blast.

As a precautionary measure all schools in the Uva Province were closed yesterday until further notice. Police said that the claymore mine had been placed by the roadside on a slope which was not visible to passers by. Yesterday (16) marked the official abrogation of the ceasefire agreement the Government entered with the LTTE on February 21, 2002.

According to political observers the LTTE has resorted to targeting civilians outside the North and East to divert the attention of the Government which had announced that it would end the LTTE terrorism during the course of this year.

Special armed forces teams combed the jungles around Buttala in a bid to track down those responsible for the attack. Police believe the gang is still in the area.

Meanwhile, around 9.30 a.m. another claymore mine was exploded targeting an Army vehicle on the Kataragama-Buttala Road. Three soldiers were injured.



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