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Was suicide bomber’s target the President or PM?
One killed, two injured in attack on Convoy

One of the vehicles damaged in yesterday’s blast

Contrary to the assertion that the target of yesterday’s suicide attack was SLFP General Secretary Minister Maithripala Sirisena, the possibility of President Mahinda Rajapaksa or Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake being the actual target could not be ruled out, security sources said.

An LTTE woman suicide cadre mounted the attack on a fast moving VIP convoy at 1.15 p.m. at Katuwawala, near the Pirivena Road junction on the Boralesgamuwa-Piliyandala main road, as it was returning to Colombo from the abandoned paddy track at Bolabotuwawa, Kumburugoda in the Bandaragama area.

According to an invitation printed by Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Ministry, both President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremanayake were scheduled to attend the inauguration of a national programme to cultivate abandoned paddy lands countrywide. Agriculture Minister Hemakumara Nanayakkara and Deputy Minister of Agrarian Services Siripala Gamlath, the brother-in-law of Maithripala Sirisena, had been among the other invitees. The LTTE would have been aware of the well publicized event, security sources said, adding that the attacker would have been ordered to target the convoy.

Responding to queries, a senior official said that had the suicide bomber been directed to blast a specific vehicle, she had to have a contact at the location where the ceremony was held who would pass on information about the vehicle to be targeted.

Dr. Hector Weerasinghe, in charge of the National Hospital yesterday told The Island that of the three wounded persons, admitted to the hospital, one succumbed to his injuries.

Dr. Wilbert Kumarasiri, the senior officer in charge of the Colombo South Hospital at Kalubowila, told The Island that of the five wounded persons admitted to the hospital, one had been transferred to the National Hospital. Dr. Weerasinghe said that Deputy Agrarian Minister Siripala Gamlath had not been injured in the blast. He had taken Ranjith Wijethilaka, the newly appointed Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture Development and Agrarian Services, who had been wounded in the blast to the hospital.

Yesterday’s inauguration of national campaign to boost domestic food production had been his first official function, a spokesperson for the ministry said.

Government sources said that the President would have skipped the event due to his scheduled meeting with the visiting Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas. The blast hit the convoy about an hour before the Palestinian leader arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport.

Military sources said that the government would have to curb attendance of politicians at public functions as part of its efforts to deny easy access to LTTE attackers.

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