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Cablegate: Embassy Colombo Eac Meeting 02/05/2008

VZCZCXYZ0000
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0136/01 0361321
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 051321Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7656
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1821

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000136

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/RD/SCA, DS/DSS/ITA, CA AND SA/INS
NEW DELHI FOR LEGAL ATTACH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC PTER
SUBJECT: EMBASSY COLOMBO EAC MEETING 02/05/2008


1. (SBU) Summary: AmEmbassy Colombo convened an Emergency
Action Committee (EAC) meeting on February 5, 2008. The EAC
discussed Post's security posture in light of terrorist
attacks on February 2, 3 and 4 (the weekend prior to, and the
day of, Sri Lankan Independence Day). The EAC recommended,
and the Ambassador concurred, to prohibit use of some modes
of public transportation, to strengthen Post's travel
notification system and to revise the Travel Warning and
Consular Information Sheet. End summary.

2. (SBU) On February 5, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo convened an
EAC meeting. Present for the meeting were the Ambassador,
DCM, RSO, CONS, RAO, MGT, CLO, DHS, USAID, DAO, ECON, POL,
PAO and MSG DetCmdr. The EAC discussed Post's security
posture and safety for U.S. citizens in Sri Lanka, in light
of the following incidents (all times local):

--February 2

0700 hours (7:00 AM): A bomb exploded aboard a bus that was
stopped in Dambulla (Matale Province), on the route from
Kandy to Anuradhapura. The explosion of the device, believed
to have been a parcel bomb planted on the bus, killed 20
civilians and wounded another 50-plus. Dambulla is
approximately 90 miles northeast of Colombo, in the Cultural
Triangle (a well known tourist destination).

--February 3

1000 hours (10:00 AM): A hand grenade, set on a timing
device, exploded in the Dehiwala Zoo, injuring seven people
and causing the temporary closure of the zoo. Dehiwala is a
Colombo suburb, and the zoo attracts American citizens as
well as Sri Lankans.

1400 hours (2:00 PM): A female suicide bomber detonated a
device in the Colombo railway station, located in the area
known as Fort. The explosion, which occurred on Platform
Three during a busy travel time, killed 14 and injured over
100 persons. Police conjecture that the bomber may have
detonated her device to avoid detection and capture by
security forces in the station.

--February 4

0605 hours (6:05 AM): An explosion of an improvised device in
Mount Lavinia (Colombo area) destroyed an electrical
transformer and damaged several residences in the area of the
explosion.

1410 hours (2:10 PM): A claymore mine attack targeting a Sri
Lanka Army tractor at kilometer 45 on the Buttala to
Kataragama road (Uva Province) killed one soldier and injured
three others.

1430 hours (2:30 PM): A minor explosion in an abandoned field
in Moratuwa (south of Colombo) caused no injuries or damage.
Police sources informed the RSO that the device was a hand
grenade triggered by a timer, similar to the device used in
the Dehiwala Zoo. Sources speculated that someone abandoned
the device when security measures prevented him/her from
reaching the intended target.

1600 hours (4:00 PM): A roadside bomb attack on a civilian
bus killed 15 people in Ethawatunuwewa, Welioya (North
Central Province).

3. (SBU) The RSO advised the EAC that in addition to the
incidents noted above, the Sri Lanka Police Service (SLPS)
claimed to have diverted another explosion when SLPS
discovered and defused a parcel bomb containing one kilogram
of C-4 explosive in the Nugegoda/Kohuwala area (Colombo
suburbs). The police said they discovered the parcel, which
had been planted in a telephone booth, on February 4. The
SLPS also reported the recovery on February 2 of two suicide
jackets and bomb-making components, including nine kilograms
of explosives, in Mabole, Wattala (Colombo area).

4. (SBU) The Ambassador commented that this spike in activity
indicated that the security situation was clearly
deteriorating. He noted that while the incidents had not
targeted or injured American citizens or interests, they
revealed a heightened risk to tourists and other travelers in
Sri Lanka (RSO note - American citizens are known to use the
railway, visit the Dehiwala Zoo, and travel to the Cultural
Triangle). The EAC recommended prohibiting official Americans
(those under Chief of Mission authority) from using public
modes of transportation such as trains and buses. The
Ambassador concurred that such a ban was prudent, given the
increase in attacks on buses and the main Colombo Railway
station.

5. (SBU) The EAC also agreed on the following measures:

--Prohibit official American citizens and their eligible
family members from traveling on trains and buses. Other
forms of public transportation (air travel and taxis) are not
included in the ban.

--Issue a warden message reiterating that American citizens
are strongly advised to not use buses and trains. The warden
message noted (in accordance with the No Double Standard
policy) that official Americans' travel by bus and train is
prohibited until further notice.

--Strengthen Post's Travel Warning and Consular Information
Sheet to reflect the heightened risk of in-country travel.

--Revise Post's in-country travel notification requirements
for official Americans. Currently, employees notify RSO when
traveling within Sri Lanka for personal travel. New
procedures will require that employees notify RSO and their
Section/Agency heads. Section/Agency heads will be
accountable for tracking and locating employees in case of
emergencies.

--RSO, MGT and CLO will meet with parents to review school
transportation and security issues. (Note: Government and
government-supported schools in Colombo are closed, as a
security precaution, for the rest of this week. The Overseas
School of Colombo, which most Embassy children attend, and
other international schools remain open.)

6. (U) Post will continue to monitor the security
environment, and will report further developments, if any,
septel. POC for this message is RSO Michael V. Perkins, who
may be contacted at 94.11.249.8885, 94.11.249.8888 (MSG Post
1 after regular business hours), or via the classified and
unclassified email systems.

SIPDIS
BLAKE

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