Minister of Nation Building D. M. Dasanayake may not have been the intended target of yesterday`s claymore mine blast close to the Ja-ela police station.
`It could be a case of mistaken identity or an opportunity target,` a security official said asserting that the Chief Government Whip and Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, who regularly used the Colombo-Negombo road, would have been definitely high on the LTTE hit list. The Island learns that Dasanayake is not among the ruling coalition members who had been provided with large security contingents depending on the threat faced from the LTTE.
The 54-year-old politician, who first entered Parliament in August 1994 on the PA ticket, was on his way to Parliament to attend the inaugural sessions of the House for 2008 when the blast hit his vehicle (HI 4968) at 10.35 am.
Severely wounded, the minister was rushed to Colombo North Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries at the Intensive Care Unit at 12.25 pm.
Dasanayake polled 55,775 votes, the highest number of preference votes obtained by a UPFA candidate contesting the Puttalam District at the last parliamentary elections in April 2004. His vacancy will be filled by Priyankara Jayaratne who came sixth on UPFA list with 33,144 preference votes.
Police Constable K. P. Ratnayake of the Ministerial Security Division (MSD), who was accompanying the minister, died of injuries sustained in the blast after being admitted to the hospital. Police rushed eleven civilians wounded to Ragama Hospital before two of them were transferred to the National Hospital as their condition deteriorated.
Police identified the wounded as D.K. Piyadasa (58), Isuru C. Gamage (24), J. Walter (44), J. Charles (46), S. Perera (24), J. Wijesinghe (27), S. Jayakody (38), M. S. A. S. Perera (58),
B. Perera (45), R. M. Mudiyanse, Chandra Fernando and Avantha.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara felt that the LTTE took the first `opportunity target`. Struggling to resist a relentless army advance on its territory and taking of high profile targets would have forced the LTTE to intensify operations in the South. The Brigadier said that it would be inappropriate to comment on specific targets who may have been hit by Tuesday`s claymore but Minister Dasanayake may not have been specifically targeted.
Dasanayake had left his Pallama residence in Anamaduwa in the Puttalam District at 8.45 am and was on his way to Parliament to attend the Emergency debate.
Born on April 4, 1956 he was actively associated with the SLFP since his school days. He passed his GCE Advanced Level Examination at Ananda Maha Vidyalaya, Chilaw. Earlier, he studied at the Andigama Government School and Pallama Maha Vidyalaya. Dasanayake first entered Parliament in 1994 and is the father of one child, a 12-year-old daughter studying in Colombo.
Before he left home yesterday he told a domestic aide that he wanted to visit his mother in Periyamadu in Anamaduwa on his return from Parliament.