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Cablegate: Embassy Colombo Eac Meeting 09/03/2008 in Wake Of

VZCZCXYZ0006
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHLM #0851 2531123
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 091123Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 8646

UNCLAS COLOMBO 000851

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR DS/IP/RD/SCA, DS/DSS/ITA AND SCA/INS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC PTER
SUBJECT: EMBASSY COLOMBO EAC MEETING 09/03/2008 IN WAKE OF
08/30/2008 BOMBING IN PETTAH DISTRICT, COLOMBO 11

REF: RSO COLOMBO SPOT REPORT DATED 08/30/2008

1. (SBU) Summary: AmEmbassy Colombo convened a meeting of the
Emergency Action Committee (EAC) on September 3, 2008 to
discuss post's security posture in light of the bombing
incident that occurred on August 30, 2008 in the Pettah
district, Colombo 11. The detonation of an improvised
explosive device (IED) occurred at approximately 1230 hours
local time (0300 EDT on the same date) and injured 43 people.
The EAC concurred that the actual threat did not, at this
juncture, warrant revisions to post's security posture or the
security advice to the general American community. End
summary.

2. (SBU) On September 3, 2008, AmEmbassy Colombo convened an
EAC meeting. Present for the meeting were the Acting Deputy
Chief of Mission, Regional Security Officer, Political
Officer, Economic Officer, Public Affairs Officer, Consular
Officer, Management Officer, International Broadcasting
Bureau Station Manager, USAID Acting Director, Officer in
Charge of the Office of Defense Cooperation, Defense Attache
Office's Operations Coordinator and the Marine Security Guard
Detachment Commander. The agenda items for the meeting were:

-- The IED detonation in Pettah on August 30

-- Post's security posture in light of the incident

3. (SBU) On August 30, 2008, an IED detonated on Olcott
Mawatha (or Olcott Avenue), in Pettah, Colombo 11,
approximately two miles away from, and north of, the U.S.
Embassy. RSO's police sources, as well as local media
outlets, reported that the IED was hidden in a vendor's
stall. Police sources told the RSO that investigators had
discovered pieces of cardboard and a 9 volt battery at the
crime scene, leading to speculation that the device had been
a time delayed/detonated parcel bomb. The explosion injured
43 people, three critically, but no deaths were reported.
Police blamed LTTE for the explosion, though the LTTE did not
claim responsibility. RSO's police sources speculated,
immediately after the incident, that the terrorist group was
trying to demonstrate that it still has the capability of
striking in one of the busiest commercial districts of
Colombo, despite the heavy security presence throughout the
city. Police sources averred that using such a small amount
of explosive material (approximately 75 - 100 grams) could
cause injuries while minimizing the likelihood of deaths.

4. (SBU) The EAC discussed other possible motives that had
cropped up in the days after the bombing. POL commented that
some sources were speculating that the LTTE was not involved
at all; rather, the incident was part of a plan to chase
street vendors from the area. Other sources conjectured that
rival street vendors were attempting to rid the area of
competitors. Regardless of the true source or motives for the
explosion, the EAC concurred that the incident did not
represent a change or escalation in the threat to the
official or expatriate American communities. The EAC agreed
that the true threat remains being in the wrong place at the
wrong time - i.e. in proximity to an LTTE attack on a GSL
military, political, economic or law enforcement target, and
thus becoming an unintended victim of the attack. The EAC
agreed that this attack did not represent a change in LTTE
tactics, if indeed LTTE perpetrated the incident. Therefore,
there was nothing new to report to either the official or
expatriate American communities. Accordingly, the EAC decided
that it was not necessary, at this time, to either revise
post's security posture or amend the security advice that
post provides to the general American community.

5. (U) Post will continue to monitor the security environment
and report further developments 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 email at perkinsmv@state.gov
(unclassified email), or perkinsmv@state.sgov.gov (classified
email).
BLAKE

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