‘LTTE trying to make presence felt’ - Police
Bomb explosion in Pettah injures 44 civilians

Police probing yesterday’s explosion in Colombo suspect that a bomb with a timing device had been used to trigger the blast, which injured 44 civilians.

At least two of the wounded were in a critical condition and had undergone emergency surgery, hospital officials said.

"All indications are that the bomb would have weighed anything between 50 to 75 grams, which made it easy to carry and also to be placed at the point of attack largely unnoticed", SSP Ranjith Gunasekera said.

The explosion, blamed on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), ripped through a small sidewalk pavement shop near the Bo Tree junction at Olcott Mawatha around 12.15 pm.

There had been many people selecting wrist watches at this pavement stall


when the blast occurred, he said. "The crowd with their attention focussed elsewhere would have given the perpetrator the ideal opportunity".

SSP Gunasekera said that most of the civilians had suffered injuries on their legs which showed that the explosion had originated at ground level.

"As the bomb was relatively small in size and weight, it could have been easily placed on the ground by the perpetrator under the guise of selecting a wristlet and surreptitiously pushed under the pavement vendor’s stall using his feet", he explained.

"We view this blast as a signal by the LTTE to make their presence felt in the city", he said. "They are trying to indicate they are still active despite the heavy beating the LTTE has suffered".

This shows that the LTTE has been reduced to carrying out small attacks of this nature as their network has been largely busted as a result of combined anti-terrorist operations, SSP Gunasekera noted.

Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, Director of the Colombo National Hospital, where the wounded were admitted, said that injuries suffered by most of the victims were not life threatening.

"No arrests have been made so far", SSP Gunasekera said. "Investigations are in progress".

Police sealed off the area and closed some roads leading to Olcott Mawatha following the blast.

Several recent plots by the LTTE to carry out bomb attacks targeting government institutions, public transport and civilians had been foiled on information revealed by Tiger cares arrested during police operations, the President’s Media Division said.

There would have been more casualties if yesterday afternoon’s blast took place on a week day when the key metropolis is congested, it said in a statement.

The statement quoted military sources as saying that "there was every indicated that the explosion was caused by the terrorist LTTE as part of its campaign to win its separatist demands".

IGP Jayantha Wickremaratne was in his office till late evening yesterday directing investigations. When the Sunday Island called him for his comments on the probe into the explosion, he replied, "I am busy now. Call me later".

Defence authorities yesterday reiterated the call for the public to be vigilant in the face of LTTE attempts to disrupt public life and cause death and destruction.

"They will try to do this as the LTTE is facing severe setbacks in military operations against it in the North", the presidential statement noted.

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