A blast victim being rushed into hospital
By Amantha Perera
Bloody carnage was wreaked in the country
last week with the wanton targeting of
civilians travelling by public transport.
Three bombs, two targeting buses and one a
crowded passenger train were blasted within
48 hours by the purveyors of terror. The
blasts left at least 22 dead and over 85
injured. Terror had returned to the cities
like never before which the government
blamed on the LTTE.
The claymore which targeted the Moratuwa bus
Friday was set in one of the most scenic
spots on the short drive from Galle Road to
the Katubedda University.
The mine was hidden in the undergrowth of
the marsh area between the Shailabimbaramya
Buddhist Temple and the University of
Moratuwa, about a kilometre from the Galle
Army officers at the scene of the blast said
that the attackers had selected the
undergrowth to conceal the mine that was set
off using a remote controlled device.
The Tata bus bearing the serial number 29
Sri 1885 was heading towards the Galle Road
where most of its passengers packed like
sardines would have disembarked. It never
Around 7.30 on June 6 morning a deafening
noise shattered the morning, and the bus
came to a screeching halt. By then three
bodies lay on the road where they fell when
the powerful claymore exploded.
Steal balls, heated to thousands of degrees
ripped through innocent passengers. It was a
blood bath - there were no other words to
describe it. Those who got to the scene
first said that there was so much blood on
the inside of the bus and near the front
footboard, it had dripped on to the tarred
road and clotted on the road.
The blast left 20 civilians dead and over 60
injured. Eyewitness accounts of the
explosion said that after the blast the bus
had travelled about 50 metres before coming
to a halt. One of the dead bodies lay where
the ill-fated passenger fell after the
blast, covered with a white cloth, with
spots of blood oozing on to the sheet.
Among the dead were 12 males and eight
females. Three hospitals, the Lunawa
Hospital south of the attack, the Kalubowila
Hospital and the Colombo General Hospital
were treating the injured.
Wails of relatives
the wails of relatives who just found their
loved ones plucked away from them like
animals ringed the hospital courtyard. Some
fainted in the arms of others, some looked
empty, all bore pain searing like hot irons
Police teams moved into the area of the
blast and cordoned it off. Another claymore
was discovered on
Mount Lavinia a couple of hours later.
Police spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekara
said that 38 persons, 31 males and seven
females were detained after the blast for
"The continued targeting of innocent
civilians by the LTTE must earn the outrage
and opprobrium of all civilised societies,
who can now see the reality of the LTTE's
unwavering commitment to violence and terror
to achieve its narrow objectives," President
Mahinda Rajapakse said condemning the attack
"This brutality also shows the efforts of
the LTTE to provoke a backlash against the
Tamil people, from which it hopes to gain,
although the Tamil people themselves are
held in thrall by the terror of its
so-called liberator," he was to also say.
Gas canister explosion
Panic stricken citizens watched nervously
as they stepped onto the roads. A gas
canister explosion created panic in Nugegoda.
The uneasy calm only held for hours.
By 4.05 p.m news came that a bomb had
exploded inside a bus in
The bus bearing registration CP HG-7503
travelling from Wattegama to Kandy was
caught in the blast which had occurred
inside the vehicle at Polgolla around 3.50
in the afternoon.
Two civilians were dead and over 20 injured
in the attack. The Defence Ministry said one
suspect connected with the explosion was
taken into custody soon after the blast.
Friday's twin blasts came 48 hours after a
failed attempt to blow up another train
travelling on the southern coastal track,
just out of Colombo.
Thirty year old Jayatheesan
Balasubra-manium got on to the train at
Ratmalana on June 4 morning with mayhem in
mind, according to the army.
He wanted to place explosives within the
compartment and trigger it through a remote
control device, But, when he saw security
personnel inside the carriage he panicked.
"An instant change of mind amidst excitement
forced him to get off near Wellawatte, as
the train slowed down while simultaneously
committing the crime by throwing the bomb
under the train, but the plan did not work
as anticipated, instead the bomb hit the
track when his hand-held remote-controller
was activated in fear," the army said.
He fled in panic. Some reports said that a
three-wheel driver had given chase but he
got away. The army said that he ran to the
Galle Road, took a bus to Dehiwela and later
some how got in to a bus to reach Vavuniya
that night itself.
But he left a bag, within which there were a
mobile phone, a book with drawings of
electrical circuits and an ID card with his
He got as far as Irrataperiyakulam, about 10
km. from Vavuniya where he tried to seek the
safety of other passengers to avoid
detection. An alert Civil Defence Officer,
Nandawathi spotted his nervous face and
confronted him. He bluffed and then took to
his heels, but was soon caught.
His attempt to kill innocent civilians was
thwarted, but his arrest did not deter
others from doing so.
The spate of bomb attacks have also now put
in jeopardy the SAARC Summit scheduled to be
held next month with diplomatic missions of
the member nations taking stock of the
situation and doing a security appraisal
whether it is safe for their leaders to
The public transport nightmare
By Arthur Wamanan
Friday's attack on a bus in Katubedda was
the 12th occasion where civilians were
targeted in the country so far this year.
Within hours the 13th was also to occur in
Travelling in public transport has of late
become a nightmare with each passenger
eyeing his or her fellow passengers with
suspicion, especially when he or she carries
The attacks have so far claimed 145 lives
and have injured more than 200.
The statistics also include civilians killed
in bomb attacks in the Tiger
Friday's attack claimed 22 lives and injured
more than 85. The injured persons were
rushed to the Kalubowila and Lunawa
Director of the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital
Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri told The Sunday
Leader that the bodies of 20 victims killed
in Friday's blast were in the hospital and
another 59 were receiving treatment. Four
others who were critically injured were
transferred to the Colombo National Hospital
for further treatment.
Out of the 16 injured persons admitted to
the Lunawa hospital, eight were transferred
The police on Friday said inquiries were in
progress with several police teams appointed
to investigate the claymore attack on the
According to the police, the blast had taken
place between 7.30-7.45 a.m - the peak time
where buses are packed with commuters going
to schools or workplaces.
No school children were killed or injured
due to the attack through sheer luck.
However, an undergraduate of the Moratuwa
University who was awaiting his results
after his final examinations at the campus,
was killed in the attack.
The victim was not studying at the campus
anymore, but had been working until his
final results were released by the campus.
By the roadside
The bus (route No. 255) had been on its way
to Mount Lavinia from Kottawa at the time of
The Defence Ministry said the claymore was
placed on the roadside between
Shailabimbaramya Buddhist Temple and the
It was reported that two students from the
Moratuwa campus were arrested by the police
on suspicion following the blast. Police
Spokesperson SSP Ranjith Gunasekara denied
reports that students from the Moratuwa
University were arrested in connection with
According to the spokesperson, 38 persons
including 31 men and seven women had been
taken in for questioning.
"No one has been arrested so far," he said.
It was initially reported that eight police
teams had been appointed to investigate into
The police however stated that the state of
investigations couldn't be divulged as the
police teams were in the process of
investigating the attack.
Many police teams
"There are many police teams conducting
investigations on different aspects. We
cannot say as to how many teams have been
appointed," SSP Gunasekara said.
The Moratuwa University was closed for four
hours on Friday from
10 a.m. to
2 p.m. as a security measure in order to
cooperate with the security forces
conducting their search operations and
investigations. A search was carried out
within university premises also, but details
of the outcome were not made public.
Students who had arrived for lectures midday
were forced to be outside the campus
premises till the gates were opened.
All the students were thoroughly checked as
the police and the security forces suspected
that the killer could be hiding within the
Tamil students who were staying at the
campus hostel have left for their homes for
the weekend fearing repercussions due to the
No incidents reported
No incidents were reported from the campus
soon after the blast, but the students left
the campus fearing that the situation could
get worse during the weekend.
Security in Colombo and suburbs was
intensified following the threat of attacks
on public transport this year. The military
had also conducted several programmes around
the country to educate civilians on facing
Police and security forces have been
conducting snap checks on vehicles in
Colombo as a measure to increase security in
and around the city. Of the 13 occasions on
which bomb blasts occurred, civilian
casualties were averted thrice due to the
vigilance of passengers and bus operators.
Major disasters were averted when alert
passengers tipped off the bus crews of
bombs in Mount Lavinia on February 23 and in
Kadawatha and Moratuwa on May 24.