At least nine people were killed and more than 70 injured when a bomb exploded inside a packed Panadura-bound train at the Dehiwela railway station last evening. Among the victims returning home after work were six females, including a pregnant woman and three males.
The explosion took place minutes after the train that started from Colombo Fort had just moved a few yards from the Dehiwela railway station. According to initial investigations the explosive device, believed to be a two-kilogramme parcel bomb, had been placed on the left side luggage rack of the fifth compartment of the 12 compartment, twin engine train.
The force of the blast had ripped apart the roof of the compartment and also damaged a part of a building adjoining the railway station and a three wheeler parked nearby. The blast took place around 4.55 pm, exactly 30 minutes after it departed from Maradana, Dehiwela Station Master Dhanapala Navaratna said.
At least five bodies were seen inside the damaged compartment while the injured were rushed to the Kalubowila hospital. The hospital s Acting Director Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri said the condition of at least three were critical while one was transferred to the National Hospital. A pharmacist at the hospital was also among those dead.
Initial investigations revealed that the bomb was triggered using a timing device and did not contain pellets. Such bombs may find passage undetected even through metal detectors at times, the army website said.
It was also revealed that more than forty passengers had been injured not directly by the impact of the blast, but due to injuries sustained by jumping off the moving train after the blast. Some of them fractured their arms and legs.
Train services were disrupted along the coastal line following the blast but the Railway control room later said services had resumed curtailing it to one single line.
The Defence Ministry blamed the LTTE for the incident adding that in its pursuit for a mono ethnic separate homeland for Tamils, the LTTE has killed and maimed innocent people including children, Tamil and Sinhala political leaders in indiscriminate bomb attacks.
The latest bombing came just two days after time bombs were defused on two passenger buses in Ganemulla and also after 17 people were killed in a claymore blast inside LTTE territory in the Wanni for which the Tigers blamed the military.
On July 24 in 1996 the LTTE detonated two bombs targeting a crowded train at the same railway station killing more than seventy people and wounding some 500. Thatblast devastated two carriages of the south bound train.