The Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Bashir Wali Mohamed, had a miraculous escape when a three-wheeler borne LTTE suicide bomber rammed into his motorcade in the heart of Colombo on Monday.
The Sri Lankan government said that the blast was an attempt to kill the envoy, and squarely blamed the LTTE for it.
Seven people including four army commandos who were in a Defender escort jeep, were killed, and ten others were injured in the blast which occurred at 1.30 pm near the Liberty Plaza round-about in Colombo-3.
The Pakistan envoy's car was also badly damaged, but he himself got away without a scratch, the police said.
An explosives-laden three-wheeler, driven by a suicide bomber, was prevented from reaching its target by the military escort vehicle, a statement by the Sri Lankan government's Information Department said.
"The military vehicle took the full brunt of the explosion and at least seven persons, including four soldiers, died in the blast."
"The LTTE suicide bomber too died in the explosion," the statement said.
Condemning the attempt on the life of the Pakistani envoy, the statement said that the government was "concerned about the LTTE's decision to widen its terror acts to include perceived regional threats."
Earlier, the Sri Lankan army had said that a three wheeler fitted with two powerful claymore mines had been parked in a by-lane, and that the deadly devices could have been set off by remote control.
High Commissioner Bashir Wali Mohamed was returning from a Flag Hoisting function to mark Pakistan's Independence Day.
The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa telephoned the envoy to express his deep shock, the government statement said.
Interestingly, Bashir Wali Mohamed is on his way out of Sri Lanka having completed his tenure of two years.
Threat was foreseen from LTTE
Clearly, there was a threat to the life of the Pakistani envoy as the Sri Lankan government had recently given him army commando escort.
The LTTE's grouse against Pakistan is that it has been an exceptionally strong supporter of the Sri Lankan government's way of tackling the ethnic problem and its war against terrorism.
Islamabad has also been a major supplier of arms, especially small arms.
It was with the help of the Multi-Barrel Rocket Launchers (MBRLs) supplied by Pakistan that the Sri Lankan army was able to drive the LTTE out of Jaffna in a very difficult situation in 2000.
And in the on-going war, the MBRLs supplied by Pakistan are tormenting the LTTE in both the Northern and Eastern fronts.
Sri Lankan nationalists never tire of saying that Pakistan and China have been Sri Lanka's only true friends, as they had been friends in dire need, at the time of war.
Pakistan is also said to be cultivating the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka with which the LTTE has been at great odds.
Envoy Bashir Wali Mohamed, with an intelligence background, is believed to have been quite active in this sphere.
The LTTE has been complaining about the existence of a 'Jihad' and 'Osama' group among the Muslims in the troubled Eastern Province. A Pakistani hand is suspected in the development of these shadowy groups.
Some Sri Lankans with a conspiratorial bent of mind, saw the blast as being part of the India-Pakistan conflict.
The third theory is that the target of the bomber was the Sri Lankan army commando escort and not the Pakistani envoy.
The Special Task Force chief is quoted by the Army website as saying that the terrorists might have been targeting an army convoy which was to pass through.
In this connection it is pointed out that the vehicle hit by the assassin was not the envoy's but an escort.
Third terrorist incident in Colombo in August
This is the third major terrorist incident in the capital city of Colombo in August thus far.
A senior leader of the pro-government Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party (EPDP) S Sivadasan, was badly wounded and three others died in a van blast.
On August 12, the Deputy Director General of the Government Peace Secretariat, Kethesh Loganathan, was shot dead.
The LTTE is stated to be the perpetrator in both these cases.