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The BBC's Susannah Price in Columbo
"The casualties were all civilians"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 07:55 GMT 08:55 UK
Suicide bomb in Sri Lanka
Colombo bus blast site
The bus was carrying air force personnel
A suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber trying to target a bus full of air force personnel has killed himself and two other people.

The suicide bomber was knocked down by a cyclist as he tried to jump in front of the military bus, police said.

The impact detonated the explosives strapped to his body, killing him, the cyclist and another pedestrian.



I saw car tyres and vehicle tyres and bodies flying

Eyewitness, Arun Roy

"The attacker had clearly targeted the bus which was carrying 40 to 50 air force personnel coming into the city," Inspector Premalal Ranagala said.

"If not for the cyclist, there could have been a bigger tragedy."

Some of the passengers were wounded airmen being taken to hospital for routine treatment.

The blast comes exactly a week after Sri Lanka's Industry Minister, CV Gooneratne, was assassinated by a suicide bomber while he attended a parade in Colombo to drum up support for government soldiers battling Tiger rebels.

The attack took place along the main highway at Wattala, northeast of Colombo city centre.

Arun Roy was behind the bus when the bomb exploded on the road to Bandaranaike International Airport.

"I suddenly heard a loud explosion," he said. "I saw car tyres and vehicle tyres and bodies flying."

Tamil Tigers

Soldiers are posted at checkpoints throughout the capital and other cities to guard against terrorist attacks.

The Tamil Tigers have often targeted vehicles carrying military personnel.

The attack comes as fighting continues in the northern Jaffna peninsula, where the Tigers launched a major offensive two months ago.

There had been hopes that, despite the fighting, the Norwegian Government would be able to continue its efforts to bring the government and Tigers together for talks.

However, these latest explosions in Colombo make this appear increasingly unlikely in the near future.

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See also:

07 Jun 00 | South Asia
Bomb kills Sri Lankan minister
07 Jun 00 | South Asia
Sri Lanka's deadly bombers
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