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Chronology Of Ltte Terror - Part 31

When the euphoria of victory dies down, and together with it the media hype ceases, when the guns do not rattle and boom anymore and the sky, the land and the sea become calm and serene, when tranquillity reigns through it is natural to live in the present moment and forget the past. But one cannot live in the present without a past.

Nor can one envision the future discarding the experience of the preceding events. Hence the Daily News is serialising the Chronicle of LTTE Terror taken from our own archives which would remind our readers how it all began.

An awareness of the chronology of terror would help us prevent the recurrence of such terror and frustrate any attempts by misguided elements to repeat history to suit their evil designs. It was not simple terror.

Nor was terror sporadic. It was all pre-planned, pre-determined, well-calculated terror. The victims were innocent people. Though it is too many innumerate we would like to recall the major episodes in the Chronology of Terror.


Wednesday April 29, 1987

Similarities with Tristar, CTO, Veyangoda explosions of May ’86:

Pettah bomb evidence points to EROS

Forensic experts sifting evidence from the Pettah bomb blast site, said preliminary indications pointed to the involvement of the same group that was responsible for four bomb attacks in and round the city last May.


Their grief a boundless tragedy

Additional Government Analyst, A. R. L. Wijesekera said that judging from the devastation, the type of explosives and triggering device used in the Pettah bomb were similar to the CTO, Cold Stores and AirLanka explosions.

“We have not found any evidence that this bomb was different from the others. We suspect that about 20 to 25 kilos of gelignite would have been used. But a clear picture should emerge when we conclude our chemical tests,” he said.

The experts suspect that the blast may have occurred inside a vehicle. “We can’t be certain where the bomb was kept. But our hunch is that it was a car bomb,” said Mr. Wijesekera.

Police said they had interviewed the owner of the suspect car and several others in an effort to help the investigation. IGP Cyril Herath said that the case was being handled by the CID.

Last year EROS claimed responsibility for bombing an Airlanka Tristar (May 3), the Central Telegraph Office (May 16), the Ceylon Cold Stores Colombo warehouse facility (May 30) and a Colombo bound train at Veyangoda (May 31) killing at least 55 men, women and children and injuring over 250.

However, EROS has denied that it was responsible for the bomb attack which killed 109 people and wounded about 300 at the Pettah central bus stand.

“We have technical evidence and reports from survivors that the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students planted the Pettah bomb,” National Security Minister, Lalith Athulathmudali said in an interview with the BBC.


Pettah bomb kills nearly 200 civilians

The month of April falls in the season of harvests and abundance and the Sinhala and Hindu New Year too falls on this month called in Sinhala Bak, meaning fortunate.

The people of Jayanthipura in the Trincomalee District had just harvested their rice paddies and enjoyed the new year a few days back.

This small village of about 120 people were mainly rice farmers but not an affluent landowning community though they were not the poorest of poor. If the crops failed they would have to find relief work toiling even harder on whatever jobs could be fround.

It was just one week after the new year when the villagers had some uninvited and rather unholy visitors. The villagers had a rude shock to see the armed group of terrorists who immediately started shooting at each villager, man woman or child who were to be seen by the gun toting brutes whose misnomer brand name was LTTE the first letter meaning liberation.

In the shooting spree five women, four girls, a boy and five men were gunned down but this time the bloodthirsty LTTE terrorists could not accomplish their gory mission as the home guards who had heard the gun shots arrived at the scene and started attacking the terrorist band who fled then dragging their injured comrades in crime.

The home guards had only shot guns but they managed to chase the terrorists out of the village.

Security men believed that the same group of killers were the ones who had massacred over a hundred unarmed people travelling in three buses at Kithulotuwa a few days back but the emerging pattern of killing made it very clear that the LTTE and other brands of terrorists had one aim in common to chase the Sinhalese villagers out of the three districts Trincomalee, Ampara and even Polonnaruwa.

The next incident was one of most horrendous. The very next day a bomb went off around 5.00 p,m. - at Pettah adjascent to the main bus stand and immediately over 100 people were killed and more than 100 injured, a large number critically.

It was the busiest quarter of Colombo and the first count said 105 dead and the injured also was nearly that number. The bomb was placed in a car on Bodhiraja Mawatha and was set to go off just when the people leaving their places of work were coming out on the street.

Security men said the bomb was a joint effort of the LTTE and Eros and it was the biggest yet attack on civilians in Colombo and total who died – some after admission to hospital in a critical condition was over 130 people.

Volunteers and the hospital staff rose to the occasion working hard into long hours and blood donors queued outside the blood banks to donate blood. People whose family members had not returned home after work that evening rushed to the hospital and the hospital and police had to fight hard to keep the anxious public out of the wards.

Among those rushed to hospital the critically injured were dying and the death toll was not given out by the hospital authorities as the government of the day feared a backlash in Colombo. Over 200 lay dead in the morgues and hospitals.

Though the politicians like the TULF leader Appapillai Amirthalingam who fathered the terrorists President J.R.Jayewardene and India’s Premier Rajiv Gandhi – all of them culpable of allowing the terrorists to emerge – some of them guilty of creating the monsters were telling the public that the terrorists could be civilized and brought to accept a solution to the problem they said was created by the grievances of the Tamil people.

All of them were either misled or simply were hypocritical while hundreds of innocent men, women and children were paying with their lives for the ghastly political blunders committed by all of them.

The terrorists’ master plan was to instill fear into the minds of the Sinhalese and Muslims and engage in genocide for the next many years thanks to the political vultures that some people had elected to represent them.


Monday April 27, 1987

23 bodies of bomb victims yet to be identified

Large pieces of metal and wire were found embedded in the bodies of Tuesday’s Pettah bomb blast victims while some were charred to death, Colombo’s Chief Judicial Medical Officer, Dr. M.S.L. Salgado, said yesterday.

He said lead and other metal objects found in the bodies were probably from the bomb and indicated that death for the majority of the 109 victims had been instantaneous.


Even little children not spered of suffering

“We have collected these objects and will be handing them over to the forensic experts. This evidence should give some idea about the bomb and its location,” Dr. Salgado said. The shrapnel had pierced the heart, lung and the brain of some victims. A large number died of shock from bleeding and multiple fractures.

A husband and wife warded at the General Hospital’s burns unit succumbed to their injuries yesterday morning raising the death toll in the bomb attack to 109.

Up to yesterday afternoon, Dr. Salgado and his team of doctors had done 86 post-mortem examinations and helped the quick release of the bodies from the medico-legal morgue.

The JMO is seeking public assistance to identify 23 bodies yet to be claimed.

“These bodies are easily identifiable. If there is any problem, the relatives can come and talk to me or the officers in my office. We will make all the arrangements to release the bodies within half an hour,” he said. He said all the bodies had been embalmed before deterioration set in, but they were unable to keep the corpses indefinitely.

Photos with CDB

Fourteen bodies of Tuesday’s Pettah bomb blast victims were identified by relatives from photographs available at the Crime Detective Bureau at No. 50, Gregory’s Raod, Colombo - 7, ASP Lionel Goonetileke said.

He said 23 more photographs of bomb blast victims were at the CDB office and relatives could call over at the CDB any time today and identify them.

He thanked the Daily News for the publicity given which helped the relatives to identify fourteen bodies of the victims.


Tuesday, April 28, 1987

State burial, last rites for 20 unknown dead

The Chief Magistrate, Colombo, Mr. Sarath Gunatileka, yesterday allowed an application by Inspector Maligaspe, OIC Pettah, to dispose of the 20 bodies which were not identified up to yesterday.

Inspector K.S.P. Maligaspe told court that the bodies were in a highly decomposed state and asked permission for the bodies to be buried at Kanatte, at State expense. The JMO, Dr. M.S.L. Salgado, performed the post-mortem examination on the unidentified corpses.

In most cases, he gave the cause of death as penetrating injuries following a bomb explosion.

ASP Lionel Goonetilleke assisted by Inspectors Upali Ratnayake and P. Hathurusinghe made arrangements for the last religious rites for the dead.


TOMORROW - Terrorists must lay down arms for peace talks

YESTERDAY - Terrorists massacre over 100 civilians

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