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Bus blast kills six, injures 50

LTTE behind explosion:



The bus which was damaged following the explosion. Pictures by Prabath Attanayake

COLOMBO: A bomb exploded aboard a private bus plying between Nittambuwa and Giriulla via the Kandy-Colombo route killing six and injuring over 50 passengers yesterday. Ten were critical, sources said. A child was among the killed.

The blast took place at Nittambuwa around 6.45 p.m. According to Police, at the time of the blast there had been about 80 passengers aboard the bus.

A spokesman for the Media Centre for National Security said the injured were rushed to the Wathupitiwela, Gampaha and Colombo hospitals for treatment.

"It was an act of terror targeting innocent civilians by the LTTE," Military spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said.

According to the Military spokesman, preliminary investigations revealed that the bomb weighing two kilos had been fixed under a seat of the bus and had been triggered close to the Damro factory at Nittambuwa junction.

Government Defence Spokesman Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said the LTTE which is losing its battle in the North and East was now acting in a manner to distract the Government's attention it was giving to the North and East and has targeted unarmed civilians in the South. "Historical evidence points the finger towards the Tigers for the blast," he said.

"These are signs of desperation in view of the defeats the LTTE had suffered. Public support in the past had helped the Security Forces to minimise the incidents in the country.

"We count on public support to continue our fight against terrorism. We assure that all measures have been taken to ensure security in the country despite this sort of provocation by the LTTE," the Minister said.

According to Police, heavy damage had been caused to the bus.

"Steps had been taken to douse the fire and bring the situation under control," Brigadier Samarasinghe told the Daily News.

Police and Army launched joint search operations in the area.

Sources said following the blast, the Colombo - Kandy Route was temporarily closed.

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