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Police arrest 40 over Katubedda blast
* Passenger bus targeted
* 22 dead, over 60 injured
* Claymore mine defused in Dehiwela

Police yesterday arrested 40 suspects after a thorough search in Dandeniyawatte, in close proximity to where a claymore mine hit a bus killing 22 and injuring over 60 others.

Eight among the dead were women.

Police believe that three men were involved in the bombing and they would be among the 40 taken in for questioning.

Interrogation was in progress as this edition went to press.

The search was conducted after the imposition of a curfew in the area to prevent anyone escaping. The search in Dandeniyawatte was carried out following information that three suspicious looking youth were seen in the vicinity and had run towards Dandeniyawatte immediately after the blast.

Of those injured, five critical cases were transferred to the National Hospital from the Kalubowila Hospital. 13 others were admitted to the Lunawa Hospital. Those admitted to the National Hospital underwent emergency surgery and are now warded in the Intensive Care Unit. Hospital sources said their lives were still in the balance.

The private passenger bus (Route No.255) was carrying nearly one hundred passengers and was proceeding to

Mount Lavinia from Piliyandala when the blast occurred soon after it dropped passengers at the Katubedde Campus. The blast occurred around 8 am and in a search operation immediately after the incident, Police recovered another 5 kg claymore mine at Abeysekera Road in Dehiwela. The Army bomb disposal squad defused it.

Police discounted rumours that a blast occurred in Nugegoda after the Katubedde explosion. They said a gas cylinder had exploded.

This was the third LTTE bomb explosion within two weeks in Colombo. Last week two trains were targeted and yesterday a bus. Two weeks ago alert bus passengers noted two unattended parcels inside buses, one at Kadawatte and the other in Moratuwa. Bomb disposal squads on examination found they were bombs and defused them thus saving hundreds of lives.

Defence authorities attributed LTTE strikes in the city and suburbs, to retaliation to the thorough beating the LTTE was getting in the Northern theatre of war where nearly 100 LTTE fighters were killed during the past one month.

Colombo city has been kept on emergency alert during the last month and security has been tightened. This could be one reason the LTTE had shifted its deadly operations to the suburbs, defence analysts said.

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