Bomb targeting passenger train explodes in Sri Lankan capital, wounding 18
Wed June 4, 2008 08:30 EDT .
KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) A bomb blast targeting a passenger train wounded 18 passengers and bystanders in Sri Lanka - 's capital Wednesday in the latest attack on civilians.
Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for the attack in the Wellawatte district of Colombo. Rebel spokesman Rasiah Ilanthirayan could not immediately be contacted for comment.
The blast went off near railroad tracks just after a train passed. The train suffered only slight damage, but 18 people including passengers and bystanders near the tracks were wounded, the military and a hospital official said.
The victims were admitted to the Kalubowila Teaching Hospital for treatment, said Dr. Wilfred Kumarasinghe. All were in stable condition, he said.
Separately Wednesday, fighter jets pounded a rebel naval base in the northern Mullaitivu district and two rebel artillery positions on Jaffna peninsula, air force spokesman Wing Commander Janaka Nanayakkara said.
On Tuesday, infantry clashes killed 17 rebels and wounded several soldiers in the Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya districts, the military said in a statement.
It was not possible to verify the military claims because reporters are not allowed into the war zone.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says more than 200 civilians have died in bombings since the beginning of the year in both government-controlled ethnic majority Sinhalese areas and northern rebel-held territory.
The government has blamed the Tigers for the attacks. The rebels, meanwhile, have accused the military of killing ethnic minority Tamil civilians in their de facto state in the country's north.
The Tigers have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland for the country's Tamils, who have suffered marginalization by successive governments controlled by the Sinhalese. More than 70,000 people have been killed in the fighting.
In January, the government pulled out of a long-ignored cease-fire with the rebels and has vowed to crush the insurgents and dismantle their de facto administration by the end of this year.
Published: Wed Jun 4 11:17:05 EDT 2008