Archive for August, 2008

Jeevan Base Overrun


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The Secretary of Defence, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksha, accompanied by the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshal Donald Perera and the Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, visited Mannar yesterday-the 30th August 2008, in order to assess the security situation in the area.

The itinerary of the visit comprised of visiting and assessing security condition of the area under North Central Naval Command. They had visited the naval detachment at Irrukkalmpiddy- the naval installation closest to un-cleared areas, the naval base in Thalaimannar, Special Boat Squadron and the Rapid Action Boat Squadron. He also declare opened the newly constructed two-storied North Central Naval Command Headquarters in Mannar which was built by the naval personnel in the civil engineering branch of the navy within a short span of time like three months saving a large sum of money.

In his visit, the Secretary of Defence, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakshe, had inspected the Special Boat Squadron and the Rapid Action Boat Squadron which has been imposing a severe threat to the LTTE activities in the Mannar Sea and had also spoken to the troops. The boats and the craft used by the Special Boat Squadron and the rapid action Boat squadron, on board one out of which the Secretary Defence sailed around in his inspection tour, have been constructed by the personnel in the naval engineering branch utilizing indigenous material and expertise. The SBS and Rapid Action Boat Squadron very recently raided the Iranativu Island which was under the presence of LTTE cadres.

The naval troops deployed in the North Central Command have successfully been putting in a blockade on the sea route of smuggling weaponry and other war-like materials by LTTE from the narrow sea strip in the Gulf of Mannar.


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Five civilians, including two children, were killed when Sri Lankan security forces shelled a village in the island’s rebel-held north, Tamil Tiger guerrillas said Sunday.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said three civilians were also wounded in the attack late Saturday on Puthumurippu, a village close to the rebel capital of Kilinochchi, 330 kilometres (200 miles) north of Colombo.

The rebels said the victims had recently been displaced due to fighting between troops and the separatist rebels.

“The shell fired by the Sri Lanka army… fell inside one such piece of land where three families had put up small shelters,” the LTTE said in a statement, listing the names of the five people it said had been killed.

There was no immediate comment from Sri Lankan military authorities, but the defence ministry said troops killed 12 rebels in the north on Sunday, while three soldiers also died in combat.

The latest fighting brought the number of rebels killed by troops since January to 6,197, according to government figures. The government says 585 of its soldiers have died in the same period.

The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said the guerrillas killed 20 soldiers during heavy fighting on Saturday in the northern district of Mullaittivu. It did not say if there were rebel casualties.

Fighting is currently centred around the north as troops push deeper into rebel-held territory to dismantle the LTTE’s northern stronghold. They ejected the guerrillas from the east of the island in July 2007.

Tens of thousands of people have died on both sides since the LTTE launched a separatist campaign in 1972, for a homeland for minority Tamils in the island’s north and east.


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Karuna calls for strong commitment from UN

The former military commander of the LTTE and Leader of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP) Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan has called upon international human rights agencies and the UN to urge the LTTE to free innocent civilians as the LTTE is now rounding up civilians to make its human shield for its last stage of the battle in Kilinochchi.

The TMVP Leader also called upon human rights agencies and the UN for a strong commitment to prevent these civilians dying in the battlefronts in Kilinochchi.

Muralitharan, who was better known as Colonel Karuna Amman, accused the international human rights organisations of ignoring the plight of these civilians who are being forcibly used in the battlefronts. “I know the mindset of Velupillai Prabhakaran better than any one else. He is now under severe tension as the LTTE is getting badly defeated. He will use this human shield for his survival,” he told the Sunday Observer.

According to Muralitharan, over 200,000 people are suffering in Kilinochchi and they are being forcefully kept by the LTTE as the Tigers have closed all possible routes to government controlled areas. He questioned the role played by the international human rights agencies and the UN to highlight the sufferings of these people.

He said, “so far none of these agencies has protested that the LTTE is using civilians as a human shield. They always clamour for human rights when the security forces are heading for Tiger strongholds. Why are they now so silent”, the one-time most trustworthy LTTE Leader of Prabhakaran queried.

Muralitharan who broke away from the LTTE accused the LTTE of ill-treating the Eastern cadres and added that the LTTE still keeps over 300 Eastern cadres with the outfit and does not allow them to flee to government controlled areas. “These people are denied all basic human rights and conscription goes on unabated as the LTTE cadres die in the battlefields in numbers”, he said.

He said that the LTTE has ordered all government and private sector employees to undergo weapons training and attributed this as a gross violation of human rights as most of these civilians were not properly trained in the use of offensives. “They are being sent forcibly while keeping their loved ones in LTTE custody. These civilians are not left with any option other than to die in the fierce battlefronts”, he said.

“Why can’t they have a strong lobby against the LTTE”, he said.

Muralitharan said that according to information the LTTE leadership had called Pottu Amman to the Muhamalai front.

“He is not a good leader in the battlefront and he does not know anything about ground battles. He has mastered killing people by planting bombs. Soosai has also been called to lead ground battles but he is not a good leader in ground battles”, he said.

Meanwhile, Muralitharan who appreciated the efforts by the government to welcome civilians fleeing Kilinochchi said according to information people grouped in numbers are planning to flee terror stricken LTTE controlled areas.

He said that civilians would flee to government controlled areas without heeding LTTE’s orders.

(Sunday Obserever)

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LTTE rounds up people for human shield in Iranamadu:

They have become real warriors after two years of experience after being engaged in a real warfare against the Tiger outfit. The soldiers in the joint Vavuniya and Mannar front move into the jungle with heavy baggage on their back, weapons and ammunition in their arms in search of Tiger cadres and confront them fearlessly.

Despite the heavy burden they engage in fighting on the doorstep of the Tiger stronghold in Kilinochchi.

After two years of fighting the soldiers have reached the most decisive phase where they confront the enemy face to face after passing the stage where they engage the enemy with indirect weapons. Now they have come to the doorstep of Kilinochchi the heart of the undeclared ‘state’ of the Tigers.

The battle is going to be a tough one in the coming days. Not that the battle the Security Forces fought earlier was easy. But, at this decisive phase, the LTTE is going to fight a do or die battle, first to defend their territory and secondly to keep their reputation as the most ruthless terror outfit of the world.

Therefore the outcome of the battle is going to be a more serious one.

The number of casualties could increase as the fighting intensifies in this terrain.But it is very difficult for the LTTE to face this much of pressure at once.

The pressure is coming from four or five fronts. From the West the 58 Division is confronting the LTTE in the Kilinochchi district, in the middle the 57 Division is confronting the LTTE in the South of Kilinochchi and in the West it is the 59 Division taking on the LTTE south of Mullaitivu.

They have to face the Security Forces round the clock as Security Forces are not allowing them to relax even a single moment. So the requirements of the LTTE are very high at this moment mostly in terms of manpower as they have to deploy thousands of their cadres at once to face the troops infiltrating their territory.

According to field commanders of the Army, they are giving a hard time for the Tiger cadres operating in Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi border west of the A-9 road.

The morale of the Security Forces is very high after they captured the much secured Thunukkai town on Friday with columns of troops surrounding this tactically important town from various directions compelling the Tiger cadres who had been operating there for the past two and half decades to hastily pack their belongings.

The abandoned armour plated tractor which had been used by the LTTE to distribute food for the Tiger cadres operating there and few other vehicles gives the impression that it was an unexpected moment for them to withdraw from this tactically important town.

The troops of the 7 Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) battalion are proudly showing what they have captured in Thunukkai.

The Commanding Officer of the 7 SLLI Lt. Colonel Ranjith Abeyratne and 572 Brigade Commander Lt. Colonel. Senerath Bandara who commanded the battle in Thunukkai were there to share their proud movement in Thunukkai.

Although the name gives the impression that it is a big town in Wanni, only a few Government buildings and private residences are there.

Except for the school buildings and other buildings provided by the Government, there is no sign that the LTTE had done any justice for the people who lived there under the control of the LTTE for the past 25 years.

Their only intention was to keep those towns only to claim their illusionary Tamil Eelam state. But it has been used as one of their tactically important bases to control both Mannar and Vavuniya fronts.

The location of the Thunukkai town is tactically important, as the LTTE could reach Vellankulam on the Mannar Pooneryn A-32 road and Mankulam on the Jaffna Kandy A-9 road within 30 minutes. Now the Tiger outfit has no control over this town with the troops capturing it on August 22.

The real depth of Thunukkai town came from the Kalvilan village which was captured by the troops a week before. That was where the LTTE located all their indirect weapons to stop the advance of the troops into this tactically important town.

But capturing Thunukkai was not the end of the battle. They advansed further northwards. A group of soldiers operating in Alankulam, a village located three Kilometres North of Thunukkai are confronting with the LTTE. The LTTE has deployed their well trained cadres into this terrain after they lost Thunukkai.

The indirect fire power cannot push them back. “They are taking cover of the bunkers when artillery and mortars fired at them and they again come out the bunkers and fired at us,” the soldiers told us.

“The battle is becoming intense. Our troops are facing it effectively,” the 572 Brigade Commander Lt. Colonel Senerath Bandara added.

As the troops of the 572 Brigade are taking the battlefront towards North of Thunukkai the troops attached to 573 Brigade under the command of Lt. Colonel. Prathap Thillekeratne are engaged in a major thrust to capture Mallavi, the other important town located on the Vellankulam Mankulam road.

The situation has become more intense in the battlefront of the 58 Division, operating under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva which is completely operating within the Kilinochchi district, after capturing Mulangavil one of the most fertile lands in the Kilinochchi district where LTTE had their massive cultivations to feed their cadres.

The real thrust the Security Forces are now facing is to cross the massive earth bunt with a ditch constructed by the LTTE from south of Nachchikuda to West of Akkarayankulam an earth bunt stretch for more than 22 Kilometres.

On August 22, troops attached the 58 Division and the Commando troops captured the edge of this earth bunt which was to be constructed upto A- 9 road creating a massive defence line connecting A-32 road and A-9 road.

The LTTE had to abandon the construction of this earth bunt halfway with commando troops capturing the edge of this earth bunt.

Moving through this thick jungle patch in the Kilinochchi district troops are now capturing sections of this earth bunt after killing dozens of Tiger cadres daily.

On Wednesday the troops attached to 58 Division held nearly two kilometre stretch of this earth bunt after moving into the bunt with a massive air attack on the earth bunt using MI -24 s and MiG 27s.

This stretch of earth bunt was located East of Nachchikuda and West of Vannerikulam village. But troops had withdrawn from this location as troops also sustained number of casualties during this pitched battle.The idea is now clear. The Security Forces operating in the joint Vavuniya and Mannar front are making inroads northwards either to reach Pooneryn or Kilinochchi.

One of the most important objectives of this military advance is that troops are controlling the entire area in the South Western coast cutting off all the supply routes linking the North Western coastal belt with the interior Tiger bases. So the LTTE has no other option other than deploying its full strength and fighting against the advansing troops.

With these tactical moves by the Security Forces the Tiger strongholds in the North Western coast, including the Nachchikuda Sea Tiger base, are going to automatically fall to the hands of the Security Forces as they cannot exist in this terrain further without any supplies from Kilinochchi.

Therefore, by means of wedging a defence line between A-9 road and A-32 road, the Security Forces are taking multiple advantages when operating on the Northern battlefront. Through such a move the Security Forces can secure the Mannar-Pooneryn road.

The most important aspect is that Security Forces can open a land route to Jaffna via the Pooneryn Sanguppiddi jetty cutting down more than half of the expenditure the Government has to bear in feeding the troops deployed in the Jaffna peninsula.

That will be a good alternative for the A-9 road to link the Jaffna peninsula with the South through another land route.

With such a move the intense pressure on the troops operating in the Jaffna peninsula will also be eased to a great extent as the troops going on vacation can be easily transported to Colombo through that road without taking a risky and more expensive journey by sea and air.

The troops also can make use of the reserve strength of troops deployed in the Jaffna peninsula and other resources for the decisive battles in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts.

Apart from this Security Forces can starve the LTTE of arms and ammunition and other logistics support arriving there from the South Indian side. With the creation of such a situation the Security Forces can push the LTTE towards further west of A-9 road and keep them under pressure until they give up arms and enter the democratic path.

For this the Navy troops also have a good role to play by intensifying naval patrols on the North Western sea and in the deep sea covering the Mullaitivu area.

The troops are now in a more advantageous situation as they are now operating only 12 Kilometres away from the Kilinochchi centre and some 15 Kilometres south of Kilali lagoon.

As the situation is such the LTTE is expected to take maximum possible steps to stop the advance of the troops further northward towards Pooneryn and Kilaly. Therefore, heavy fighting is expected to erupt in the coming days as the LTTE is determined to defend their territory even by sacrificing thousands of their cadres or risking the lives civilians.

According to intelligence sources, the LTTE is creating a human shield in Iranamadu area where LTTE leader Prabhakaran has taken refuge. The creation of such a human shield is to stop air raids by the Air Force targeting his hideout.

However, signs emanating from the Wanni indicate that civilians are ready to flee the clutches of the LTTE at any moment as dozens of civilians are fleeing Wanni on a daily basis. A total of 29 Tamil civilians from the non-liberated areas in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi Districts have sought protection with Security Forces on Wednesday at Pulmoddai and Iluppaikkadavai.

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The town of Trincomalee was gripped by terror on the night of August 26th. The continuous sound of gunfire and explosions provided the cause for this fear. The town folk of Trincomalee had finished their day- to- day activities and were preparing to go to bed when night was turned into day as the light aircraft of the LTTE launched a bombing raid on the Trincomalee Naval Base. Residents around Trincomalee town had heard a loud explosion around 9.10 pm, and almost immediately, gunfire was directed at the sky, providing a picture like that of a fireworks display.

This was the first time in four months that the LTTE aircraft went into action since they launched an attack on the Weli Oya Area Headquarters of the Sri Lanka Army on April 21- a day after the army captured the Madhu shrine.

There was a general belief among the public that with the army invading more and more territory of the LTTE everyday, the Tiger aircraft would no longer operate. Therefore, many people became highly interested as to how Tiger aircraft came.


It was in Vavuniya where radar first detected that two light aircraft of the LTTE had taken off from the Vanni. The officer-in-charge of the Indian donated radar gave the information to his superiors in Colombo as quickly as he could.

It was from then on that the air force operations room went into action. They first sent a message to the Vanni Area Headquarters, which then relayed it to the camps situated on the Vanni forward defense line.
Thereafter, the warning was conveyed to Trincomalee and other economically important locations in the South. This time the LTTE aircraft did not operate through the interior of the country. They came from Mullaitivu to Trincomalee along the coastline.

Reliable information reveals that the radar picked up the LTTE aircraft only after they had become airborne for some time. It is suspected that they evaded radar by their usual method of flying very low to the ground.
However, there are fishermen who had witnessed the Tiger aircraft coming in from the direction of Nilaveli. According to their statements, the aircraft had been flying only a few metres above sea level.

The officers at the Trincomalee Naval base had been preparing for an LTTE air attack, when about three minutes after the warning, they heard the sound of a light aircraft. The aircraft had climbed to thousands of feet over the airspace at the base. It is therefore, quite clear that when the Navy had begun preparing for the attack, the LTTE aircraft had already arrived over the naval base.
It took only a moment for the LTTE aircraft to drop their bombs on the naval base. Even though air defense systems at the base were activated, they were unable to obstruct the LTTE aircraft.
The air defense systems at the naval base, Trincomalee harbour, and the air base at China Bay became active and started firing at the night sky. This continued for 15 minutes. However, by that time, the LTTE aircraft had already dropped the bombs and started the second part of their mission, which was to safely return to the Vanni.
One of the bombs had fallen directly onto a naval billet. It had damaged the roof of the building and it is said that it was this bomb which accounted for most of the casualties among the navy personnel. There was also a naval “Mess” located close by.

Switched off

Naval sources say that the other bomb had fallen onto the protected forest reserve at the base.
At the time of the attack, the mobile phones of both the Navy spokesman and the Air Force spokesman had been switched off. As a result, media personnel found it extremely difficult to find out information about the LTTE raid.

Navy spokesman, Commander D.K.P. Dassanayaka was on overseas. Thus, it was normal for his phone to be unreachable. However, acting spokesman, Commander Manesh Karunarathna issued a press release long after the incident. By Friday, unofficial reports put the number of naval casualties at 8 dead, and 38 injured. Acting navy spokesman, Commander Manesh Karunarathna still maintains that the attack only caused injuries to 10 naval personnel. He states that this includes the 4 injured as soon as the attack took place . The two LTTE aircraft had come to take on a very important target. According to reports from the State Intelligence Service (S.I.S), their target was the “Jet Liner” vessel which transports troops to and from Jaffna, and the unarmed soldiers travelling on it.

It is learnt that though power was shut off for all sections of the naval base when the attack was launched, the lights on board the “Jet Liner” were still burning.The army believes that the attack was targeted at killing a large number of troops rather than an attack on the “Jet Liner”. Meanwhile , about 3000 unarmed Armed forces and Police personnel were due to board the “Jet Liner” that day from the Trincomalee naval base in order to travel to Kankesanthurai, Jaffna by the following Monday morning.

A high ranking officer told Lakbimanews that part of this group was already at the Trincomalee army transit camp at the time of the attack. If soldiers going home on leave had not been present at the naval base, the tiger attack could well have targeted the “Jet Liner”.

In short, this was a psychological operation of the LTTE. It was a raid which is set to bring millions of dollars into their bank accounts. This was the sixth time the LTTE had launched an air attack and the seventh targetting the South. However, why was the Tiger aircraft not shot down even after they launched seven attacks? According to Air Force, insiders the difficulty encountered in identifying LTTE aircraft and the amount of time it takes for them to go into action enabled the Tiger aircraft to return safely to the Vanni.

There was the possibility that the latest attack could have completely reversed the expectations regarding the war. But it may be that the timely action taken by the air force and the navy may have prevented the LTTE from achieving its target.

Battlefield reversals

Political analysts believe that the LTTE which is on its last legs carried out the air attack just to cover up its battlefield reversals and to gain publicity in the international arena.
In another development, a five member team under a Commodore has been appointed on the orders of the Navy Commander, to investigate whether personnel at the Trincomalee naval base had not effectively engaged the tiger aircraft. They have already commenced investigations into the matter.
It is also curious as to why surface-to-air missiles which were located at the naval base were not used against the aircraft. The other point which needs to be clarified is, if the air defense system at the Trincomalee naval base was operational, then why weren’t the Tiger aircraft shot down?

If the army continues on its path of capturing more and more tiger territory, then there is every possibility that these aircraft could become airborne again.

Even before half an hour had elapsed after the LTTE air raid, air force Kfir and MIG fighter jets had bombed the LTTE runway at Irranamadu.

On the next day , the air force launched massive air raids on Kilinochi, Nachchikuda, Vannerikulum, and Mullaitivu. This was the most number of aircraft used in a single day for air raids by the air force. The heavy rain clouds hovering over Trincomalee had also helped the LTTE aircraft that night. This had also worked against the forces.

Investigations have also commenced as to whether some elements within the security forces themselves had provided intelligence to the LTTE regarding the time the “Jet Liner” was due to arrive at the jetty and other valuable information.

Yet, it is useless to close the stable door after the horse has bolted. The air force needs to give this serious thought and prepare for the next air raid.
Meanwhile, many civilians who were injured from anti aircraft shells which fell to the ground were admitted to the Trincomalee General Hospital.

The Navy says that eight naval personnel who were injured were receiving treatment at the accident ward of the Colombo National Hospital.

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Government opens safe passage to civilians

The military push into Kilinochchi is likely to trigger an exodus of civilians, a second Vakarai. And the government is apparently preparing for the situation. Last week, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa announced that exit routes will be opened to enable civilians to enter into government controlled areas in Vavuniya.

Aircraft also dropped leaflets telling people to vacate the Wanni.
The government charged that the LTTE was using people as a human shield. Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told a press conference that “zero civilian casualties” is an objective in the current military operation. Same emphasis was laid on the safety of civilians during the military operation to capture the eastern enclave of the LTTE, Vakarai, though with rather mixed success.

The defence secretary’s reaction was triggered by increasing concerns about the safety of the civilians in the Wanni.

Amnesty International has charged that the government had cut off the supply of food and other essentials.
Humanitarian agencies claim 112,000 people have been displaced in the Wanni and the number is on the rise. “These people are running out of basic necessities,” said Yolanda Foster, Amnesty International’s Sri Lanka researcher.

“The Tigers are keeping them in harm’s way and the government is not doing enough to ensure they receive essential assistance,” she said.

Basic training

The LTTE had introduced a pass system in order to prevent people from leaving the Wanni. According to military sources, pro-Tiger civilians have been deployed to stop people from leaving and also prevent infiltration by the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) units of the army. Wanni sources also claim reservists and former cadres have been recalled to the ranks of the LTTE.
There are reports that civilians are been given basic military training in Mullaitivu.

It has also been observed that the LTTE had heavily relied on its “elite” troops like the Charles Anthony Brigade and Imran Pandyan brigade to resist the advance of the security forces. This has been a dramatic change in the strategy of the LTTE which mainly deployed the female cadres and its ordinary “foot soldiers” to fight the security forces in Mannar’s Rice Bowl. The change in the LTTE strategy had been effected following a demand by the leader of the female Tiger leader, Vidusha, who commands the all-female Malathi Brigade.

Vidusha had criticized the large number of casualties of female Tiger cadres. Following the persistence resistance by Vidusha over the deployment of female cadres against better equipped and experienced soldiers, the LTTE leadership removed most female cadres from the front line duties and replaced them with its elite cadres.

Meanwhile, the Tigers carried out another air attack against the Trincomalee military harbour last week. One Tiger aircraft was spotted 64 kilometres from the target and the other from 40 kilometres. F 7G fighter jets and MI 24 attack helicopters were sent to scramble the two Tiger aircraft. The F 7 G fighter jets, equipped with state of the art military radar system that were procured from China earlier this year to fill the vacuum of the mid air interception role. According to military sources, one F 7 G aircraft which was on pursuit of the Tiger aircraft flew over it. The lack of experience in mid air interception would have been the reason for the failure to shoot down the Tiger aircraft.

More about the Tiger air attack is discussed in pages 07. The navy has announced that ten naval ratings and civilian were wounded in the attack. However, according to some other military sources four persons were killed and over thirty injured in the attack.

Meanwhile, the 58 Division of the army advancing along the A 32 road last week captured an area of 3 square kilometers in Vannerikulam. Troops attacked a part of 20 kilometres of heavily fortified defence line which runs from Nachchikudah to Akkarayankulam. This 20 kilometres long defence line is fortified with a sand bund overlooking a lager open area.

Tigers hit Colombo

Troops of Second Commando Regiment and Six Gamunu Watch attacked guerilla defence lines killing 17 guerrillas. These figures could not be independently verified. On the following day, troops of the same division attacked three positions of the guerrilla defence lines. The air force bombed the guerrilla positions using 8 aircraft which included an assortment of Kfir, F 7 G and MI 24 attack helicopters. The battle raged for 12 hours as the Tigers put up stiff resistance taking cover from a 12 feet high sand bund. Four soldiers were killed, scores were wounded. The army said 40 Tiger cadres were killed in the clash. These figures could not be independently verified. Meanwhile, the 59 Division operating in the Weli Oya sector captured the strategically important Tannimuruppukulam tank, which is the main water source for Mullaitivu. Meanwhile, the LTTE alleged that two civilians were killed in a claymore mine explosion carried out by a deep penetration unit of the army in Olumadu.

The pro-LTTE Tamilnet website reported that the attack was carried out minutes after air force dropped leaflets urging to people to move out of the Wanni to Kilinochchi. The army denied the charges. Yesterday, after a brief lull, a bomb exploded in the city of Colombo and forty-five civilians were injured in Olcott Mawatha in Pettah, yesterday. The bomb had been placed next to a stall of a street vendor in near the Bodirajaramaya Temple in Pettah. Colombo main bus stand is located in the close proximity to the blast site.
The attack should be taken as a forewarning of increasing terror threat on the city. There is all likelihood the Tigers, beaten in the battle front, would attack the south.

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