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Blast in main market injures seven

7 persons, including 4 Army soldiers, were badly injured in Lanka, when a claymore mine fixed to a parked motorbike exploded in a busy marketplace, reports PK Balachandran.

world Updated: May 24, 2007 16:34 IST
PK Balachandran

Seven persons, including four Army soldiers, were badly injured when a claymore mine fixed to a parked motorbike exploded in a busy marketplace near the Colombo harbour on Thursday, the Defence Ministry said.

The soldiers were in an Army bus when the blast occurred. The Defence Ministry said that the mine, set off by a remote control device, had been planted by the LTTE, and that the army bus was the target.

The blast occurred during the rush hour (8.55 am) at First Cross Street in Pettah, the city's commercial hub, which lies between the harbour and the Fort railway station.

Of the injured, two were in a "critical" condition.

Earlier reports had said that it was an attack by a motorcycle borne suicide bomber.

Military experts confirmed that the Colombo harbour was not the target since the site of the blast was quite a distance away.

"The LTTE might have wanted to show that it had the capability to strike in the heart of Colombo and disprove the government's claim that the war had been won," said Iqbal Athas, Defence Correspondent of The Sunday Times.

LTTE raids Delft island
Earlier, at dawn, a flotilla of 15 LTTE boats had conducted a hit and run raid on a Sri Lankan naval detachment stationed in the Delft Island off the Jaffna peninsula in North Sri Lanka.

The LTTE claimed that it had killed 35 navy men, but the government reported 10 dead. Other sources put the Navy dead at 15.

In the all-night fighting, the Tamil Tiger raiders had take away some arms from the naval detachment.

Red Cross withdraws
On Wednesday, in view of the deteriorating security situation, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) withdrew its staff from the Omanthai and Uyilankulam checkpoints in Vavuniya district in North Sri Lanka.

The checkpoints were meant to control movement of people and goods between the government-held and LTTE-held areas.

Vavuniya and Mannar districts in North and North West Sri Lanka have been seeing sporadic fighting in the past few months with the Sri Lankan Army attempting to take over the Madu Church area from the LTTE.

The Armed Forces also intend to gain control of the coastline facing Tamil Nadu, which is being used to smuggle arms and ammo and other warlike material.