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DateLine Thursday, 17 January 2008

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Twin blasts shatter Buttala:

26 killed as Tiger claymore hits bus

Three soldiers injured in second explosion targeting Army vehicle :

Twenty six civilians were killed in a claymore blast in Okkampitiya yesterday morning.

Another 63 persons including 10 children were injured as the CTB bus they were travelling in was caught by the LTTE claymore explosion.

The bus was packed with schoolchildren, office workers and farmers from the area. Soon afterwards, three soldiers were injured in a LTTE claymore attack on an Army Unicorn in the same area.

“Following the blast in Okkampitiya suspected LTTE cadres fired indiscriminately toward the guttered bus killing 26 civilians while injuring 63 others,” Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara told the Daily News.

The CTB Bus from the Wellawaya depot was plying from Niyadalla to Buttala when the claymore hit it around 7.30 a.m. The incident took place at the third mile post, Okkampitiya. He said another bomb was exploded targeting an Army Unicorn at Galge in the Buttala-Kataragama road around 9.55 am. Three soldiers sustained injuries in the incident.

“The second blast went off 90 minutes after the first blast and the latter explosion took place two kilometres away from Buttala,” he added.

The Brigadier said the LTTE, losing a series of battles in the North and the East were desperately attacking civilians in the South. The LTTE triggered off a claymore mine targeting a civilian bus in Abhimanapura, Kebithigollawa in December killing 15 civilians and injuring 23 others.

“The LTTE targeted a civilian bus as children were returning to school after four days of holidays and others were returning to work after the Thaipongal holiday,” police spokesman Senior DIG N.K.Ilangakoon said.

The claymore mine was placed in the road side along the jungle corridor. “Initial investigations revealed that the bomb was placed facing the road side from jungle area. The jungle patch extend around 1 km along the Buttala-Niyadalla road.”

A team of doctors from Colombo had been airlifted to the scene for emergency treatment. “We have sent four doctors comprising surgeons and anaesthetics to Monaragala for emergency medical treatment. The doctors and crew have been dispatched by helicopter,” Colombo National Hospital Director Dr. Hector Weerasinghe said.

According to Dr.Weerasinghe five civilians critically injured in the claymore mine explosion were brought to the Colombo National Hospital with head injuries and admitted to the ICU. Among them was a 14-year-old student.

Several schools in the area were closed following the twin blasts.

Security was beefed up immediately after the explosions and a search operation was conducted by police jointly with the army.

Army and Police personnel numbering about 5,000 have been deployed in the Monaragala district to ensure security in the district from yesterday.

On the orders of the President steps have also been taken to provide the services of 11 more specialists in the hospitals in the district of Monaragala.

A Committee meeting of the Civil Security was held at the Buttala Police Station yesterday evening attended by Children and Women Empowerment Minister Sumedha Jayasena, MP Udayashantha Gunasekera and Uva Province Chief Minister Gamini Vijith Vijayamuni Soyza to discuss the prevailing security situation in the district.

 

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