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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Parcel Bomb On Train Kills Nine at Suburban

VZCZCXRO3728
OO RUEHLMC
DE RUEHLM #0506 1481137
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271137Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8175
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4416
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 2060
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 4397
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3492
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 8515
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION
INFO RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J3/J332/J52//
RHMFIUU/CDRUSARPAC FT SHAFTER HI//APCW/APOP//

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000506

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS, S/CT and DS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PTER ASEC PGOV CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: PARCEL BOMB ON TRAIN KILLS NINE AT SUBURBAN
STATION


1. (U) SUMMARY: A parcel bomb on a train detonated at a suburban
Colombo station on May 26 causing nine deaths and wounding more than
seventy. It was unclear whether the bomb was triggered by a remote
control (such as a cell phone) or a timer. The government of Sri
Lanka blamed the attack on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
(LTTE). Embassy has received no reports of U.S. citizens being
killed or wounded in the incident. End summary.

2. (U) On May 26 at approximately 16:55 local time, a bomb exploded
aboard a commuter train at the railway station in Dehiwala (a suburb
of Colombo, situated just outside Colombo city limits, approximately
45 minutes drive south of the U.S. Embassy). Police sources
confirmed eight dead and about 70 injured. Some of the wounded were
reportedly hurt when they jumped off the train, rather than by the
explosion itself. Sri Lankan media later said the death toll had
risen to nine when one of the victims succumbed to his injuries.

3. (SBU) The bomb was reportedly a parcel placed in the overhead
luggage rack of the passenger car and containing about 2 kilograms
of explosive. An officer from the Bomb Disposal Unit surmised that
someone remotely detonated the device since it exploded as the train
was leaving the station, having taken aboard several additional
passengers. He commented that the bomb contained no ball bearings
or other shrapnel, with most of the damage and casualties caused by
the concussion of the explosion itself. However, a government
analyst told Embassy staff on May 27 that he believed that the bomb
might have been detonated by a timer. He noted that while no
materials that would confirm this were recovered from the crime
scene, this was not unusual as most timer devices are made of
plastic which melts in the heat of the explosion. Both sources said
that the need to restart train operations had prevented an
exhaustive examination of the crime scene. According to a
television news report on May 27, police arrested one suspect who
was being interrogated. He was reportedly a passenger in the
carriage next to the one that contained the bomb.

4. (SBU) COMMENT: The Embassy has received no reports indicating
that private American citizens were in proximity to the blast.
Embassy security policies prohibit Amcit Embassy employees from
using trains and buses as modes of transportation, and our travel
warning recommends that private AmCits avoid public transportation.
The government blamed the LTTE for the incident, which occurred days
after security forces found and defused two bombs on passenger
buses. The LTTE claimed that an Army Deep Penetration Unit had
carried out a claymore attack on a civilian bus in LTTE-controlled
territory on May 23, killing 16.

MOORE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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