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Cablegate: Sri Lanka: Bomb Blast South of Colombo Kills 21,

VZCZCXRO2751
OO RUEHBI
DE RUEHLM #0554 1580639
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060639Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8247
INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA PRIORITY 0948
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD PRIORITY 7937
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU PRIORITY 6109
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 4437
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 2094
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 4413
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3513
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI PRIORITY 8545
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI PRIORITY 5990
RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO PRIORITY 0683
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 2815
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000554

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PHUM MOPS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: BOMB BLAST SOUTH OF COLOMBO KILLS 21,
INJURES 50 TO 70

1. (SBU) At around 7:30am on June 6, a bomb exploded
targeting a crowded public transport bus in the Katubedda
area on the Moratuwa-Piliyandala road (25 kilometers south of
Colombo). Police at the scene confirmed to Emboff that it
was a roadside claymore mine. Twenty-one people were killed
and 50 to 70 injured. Casualties were so high because unlike
other recent bombs, this one contained ball bearings. The
bus was traveling from Kottawa to Mount Lavinia when the
blast occurred in front of the University of Moratuwa, a top
engineering university. The Defense Ministry reported that
the roadside bomb had been placed between a Buddhist temple
and the university. The Ministry blamed the attack on the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE usually
does not claim responsibility for attacks.

2. (U) Police confirmed that a second claymore mine was
found this morning in Dehiwela, another suburb south of
Colombo. Due to this, police have imposed a curfew in the
areas of Mt. Lavinia, Moratuwa, Katubedda and Piliyandala
from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm today. (Press reported a third mine
found in Mt. Lavinia, but police told Emboff that these
reports were erroneously referring to the Dehiwela mine.)
There were also rumors about a claymore mine found in the
Colpetty neighborhood of Colombo, but after a police search,
nothing was found.

3. (U) Separately, press reported that on the night of June
5, police found and defused a time bomb at Ragama on Airport
Road, northeast of Colombo. The bomb was reportedly found
planted near a petrol shed and was scheduled to explode at
8:35 pm. Press reported that police believe the bomber could
have been targeting sailors traveling to a Navy camp close to
the petrol shed.

4. (SBU) The Embassy has received no reports indicating
that private American citizens were in proximity to the blast
in Katubedda (Moratuwa area). Embassy security policies
prohibit Amcit Embassy employees from using buses as modes of
transportation.

5. (U) This attack comes two days after the June 4
explosion on a railway track as a train bound for Colombo was
traveling between the suburb Dehiwela, and the southern
Colombo neighborhood of Wellawatte. Twenty-seven people
suffered minor injuries and were admitted to the hospital.
There was minor damage to the railway track and a car of the
train. Police described the device as a remotely detonated
parcel bomb. The explosive was detonated near Dehiwela
station, the scene of a May 26th blast which killed at least
nine people, and which the government blamed on the LTTE.
The Embassy received no reports of American citizens in
proximity to the blast. Press reported that on the night of
June 4 in northern Sri Lanka, police arrested a key suspect
in the attack, who reportedly had been seen fleeing the scene.
MOORE

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