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Archive for the ‘Tigers bomb Sri Lanka commuter bus & 21 killed: off’ Category

At least 21 commuters were killed and 47 others wounded Friday in a suspected Tamil Tiger mine attack on a crowded bus south of the Sri Lankan capital, officials said.

The state-run bus was peppered with shrapnel, a photographer at the scene said, suggesting a powerful fragmentation mine placed on the roadside had been detonated as the bus was passing.

“Twenty-one people have been killed, eight of them are women,” police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekera told, adding that around 47 others were hurt.

The military’s spokesman, Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara, blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Survivors said the bus was knocked over by the force of the explosion.

“I was standing in the middle of the bus when there was a loud noise and the whole bus toppled to the side,” said 21-year-old office worker Shanika Priyadharshani, while being bandaged up in hospital.

“I blacked out for a while. There was black smoke, people were dead around me. Some were shouting for help. I shouted for help and someone pulled me out and put me into a passing by vehicle and brought me to hospital,” she told AFP.

The bomb was the latest in a string of attacks against commuters in and around Colombo.

On Wednesday, 18 people were hurt when suspected Tiger rebels set off a bomb alongside a packed commuter train.

And on May 26, another attack on a commuter train — also blamed on the LTTE — killed nine people and wounded 84 others.

Each attack came after the LTTE complained that government commandos, who operate in small groups known as ‘deep penetration units’, have killed civilians in roadside bombings inside Sri Lanka’s rebel-held north.

Hostilities have escalated sharply since the start of the year when the government pulled out of a truce with the Tamil Tigers, who are fighting to carve out a separate Tamil state within the Sinhalese-majority island.

Since then, both sides have traded allegations that each others’ forces are deliberately targeting civilians.

The LTTE said two civilians were killed late Thursday in a roadside mine in the north by an army deep penetration unit, and that six civilians died in a similar attack on Monday night.

Last month, the rebels accused government commandos of killing 19 people in mine attacks.

Sri Lanka’s military refuses to comment on its covert operations in the north.

Casualty figures in the north are impossible to verify as journalists are barred from visiting front line areas or crossing into rebel-held territory.

The Sri Lankan government says that it now has the upper hand in the long-running conflict, with the defence ministry reporting that 4,081 Tamil Tigers have been killed so far this year.

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