Bus explosionm injures 18 in Sri Lankan capital

By NNN-Xinhua

Colombo : At least 18 civilians were injured in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo Saturday morning when a bus was exploded by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels, said the military.

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Military Spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said the explosion, occurred at about 11:00 a.m. (0530 GMT) in the southern Colombo suburb of Mount Lavina, was caused by a suspicious parcel inside the Colombo bound bus.

Nanayakkara said 10 males, seven females and an eight-month infant were injured in the explosion carried out by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Marvin Fernando, a passenger of the ill-fated bus told Xinhua on the spot that a traveler found an unattended parcel underneath a seat in the bus and alerted the driver and the conductor.

“They reported it to the police, stopped the bus and asked the passengers to leave the bus immediately,” said Fernando.

The explosion took place after the passengers got off the bus and the driver was taking it to a safe place, said Fernando, adding that about 20 passengers were on the bus before the incident.

The bus was completely destroyed by the explosion and the subsequent fire, Xinhua correspondent saw.

The bus explosion took place a day after the Sri Lanka Air Force bombed an LTTE target in the northern Kilinochchi district.

The LTTE said the target was a civilian settlement with eight people being killed and 14 injured in the explosion.

Government troops and the LTTE are currently engaged in intensive military conflicts in the north, with the government determining to defeat the LTTE before the end of this year.

The military said more than 700 people have been killed in the escalating conflict since the beginning of this year.

The LTTE has been fighting for a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east for more than two decades, resulting in the death of more than 70,000 people.