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Nearly 100 sailors killed in LTTE suicide attack

Barbaric act against unarmed Forces personnel

DIGAMPATHANA: Nearly one hundred sailors were killed and 116 including civilians were injured in a barbaric suicide attack by the LTTE by driving an explosives-laden truck targeting hundreds of unarmed Naval personnel at Digampathana on the Trincomalee-Habarana road.

"It was a transit point for changing over sailors going on leave and those reporting to camps after leave. The sailors were resting before boarding the buses when the suicide cadres drove in," a Navy official describing the brutal attack said.

According to Navy sources they used Digampathana as a transit point to give clearance for the Naval personnel coming from Colombo and Trincomalee before boarding into the Navy convoys coming from both directions.

"An explosives-laden Canter truck from the direction of Dambulla exploded targeting those unarmed sailors going on leave and reporting for duty around 1.30 pm," a senior Navy officer told the Daily News.

Around 70 sailors who received injuries in the explosion were rushed to Matale and Dambulla hospitals and those who were in critical condition were airlifted to Colombo National hospital by SLAF helicopters. There were around 15 buses in the convoy. The blast occurred around 1.30 p.m. when the suicide cadres in the Mitsubishi Canter blew up their deadly cargo.

Navy sources said the transit point is changed frequently as a security measure and Digampathana was chosen as yesterday's meeting point of the convoys heading to and from Trincomalee.

Police and Army units which rushed to the spot immediately afterwards began a cordon and search operation.

"There is no doubt that the LTTE is behind this savage attack. They have now resorted to a truck bomb as effective surveillance led to the discovery of many claymore mines and other ambush devices," the Navy official said.

The Navy recently conducted several successful defensive operations against the LTTE, including the sinking of a trawler believed to have been carrying weapons off the Mannar coast on Sunday.

This is a clear manifestation that the LTTE is not interested in resorting to the civilised way of solving the problems," Government Defence Affairs spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said.

"This is a very clear manifestation that the LTTE is not willing to distance itself from their barbaric acts," the Minister added.

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President vehemently condemns barbaric LTTE attack, expresses deepest sympathies

COLOMBO: The bomb attack by the LTTE terrorists targeting a convoy of Navy vehicles at Habarana yesterday (16) has drawn the serious concern of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, a media release from the President's Office states.

The President immediately on hearing of the incident despatched a team of Ministers and Government Officials to the scene to make an on the spot assessment of the aftermath and take all necessary steps promptly to deal with the situation, the release states.

All steps have been taken to provide immediate medical assistance including medical officers to the hospitals where the victims were admitted for treatment.

The President while conveying his deepest sympathies to the members of the bereaved families urged the public to remain calm on this tragic occasion. He emphatically states he would take every step to defeat terrorism, the release added.

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Produced by Lake House Copyright 2006 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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