The ethnic Tamil bomber who blew herself up targeting Sri Lanka`s top general was pregnant, and that helped her to conceal explosives and get inside army headquarters for a maternity check, an investigator says.
The brazen, meticulously planned attack Tuesday triggered reciprocal military action by both government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels, pushing Sri Lanka close to civil war after a tense four-year cease-fire.
The bomber has been identified as 21-year-old Anoja Kugenthirasah from Vavuniya, a government-held northern town near Tiger-held territory. She is believed to have been a member of the rebels` Black Tigers suicide squad, the investigator said.
The investigator, who cited hospital records, spoke on condition of anonymity due to policy.
Government Media Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said he was aware of the initial findings, but `cannot make comment until the investigation is over.`
The bomber apparently targeted the car of Sri Lanka`s army commander, Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, inside the heavily fortified military headquarters in the capital, Colombo.
The attack killed 11 people and wounded 26 - including Fonseka, who suffered serious abdominal injuries and on Friday was in an intensive care unit where doctors described his condition as stable. The death toll rose from 26 when Pvt. Sitara Gunetilake, 22, succumbed to her injuries Friday, said Dr. Anil Jasinghe of the Colombo National Hospital.
After the bombing, the government launched airstrikes on rebel bases in the northeast. The rebels responded by setting off anti-personnel mines.
The new violence threatens to shatter a Norway-brokered peace deal on this tropical island of 19 million people, battered for months by sporadic violence.
On Dec. 4, the Tigers carried out the first major attack since the 2002 cease-fire, killing 12 navy sailors and unleashing dozens of smaller assaults.
Fonseka had convinced President Mahinda Rajapakse that retaliation was needed, as well as new weapons to modernize the army after four years of truce. His actions made him a prime rebel target.
The suicide bomber who made Tuesday`s attack had fake identification saying she was the wife of a clerk working for the army, the investigator said, citing hospital records that he said also showed she was pregnant.
Records show she had attended a maternity clinic - held every Tuesday at the military hospital inside the headquarters complex - for three weeks before the attack.
She had came to be known the guards and learned Fonseka`s routine, the investigator said.
On Tuesday she got inside the complex half an hour early and stood in front of the hospital, beside the road that Fonseka used to leave the headquarters.
She steeped closer to his car as it approached, and one of Fonseka`s motorcycle escorts shouted for her to get away. She detonated the bomb shortly afterward, killing five of the escorts.
The Black Tigers are renowned for their skill at deploying suicide bombers against military, economic and civilian targets.
Victims have included former Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and numerous Sri Lankan ministers and senior politicians.