A suicide bomber exploded himself inside a civil defence post in a Colombo suburb on Sunday morning, killing eight and injuring at least 17 more.
While the LTTE did not claim responsibility, the nature of the suicide attack had all the trademark signatures of the Tamil Tigers.
Among the dead were a Sri Lankan army (SLA) officer and four personnel from the civil defence unit. The condition of at least two among the injured was serious.
The attack was carried out at about 8:45 am in the Wattala area near a church and crowded vegetable market, an official of the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) told HT.
``The suicide attacker was strapped with explosives. He tried to walk into the civil defence post but was stopped at the gate. He then triggered the explosion,'' the MCNS official added.
The injured were taken to the Ragama Teaching Hospital about six km from the spot. "Eight victims belonged to the civil defence unit. Two were serious and shifted to the Colombo National Hospital," Lalina Gurusinghe deputy director of the hospital told HT.
The explosion triggered panic and chaos among church-goers and Sunday-morning shoppers. The market was subsequently shut and the police and SLA personnel threw a security cordon around the spot. Traffic in the area was disrupted for about an hour.
The MCNS official added that the civil defence unit victims were not from the police or the army but were civilians who had volunteered to help the security forces. ``They were volunteers from the civil community who had been given uniforms. Their main job was to help the army and the police with information,'' he said.
Meanwhile, the armed forces continued to push the LTTE to a corner over the weekend.
On Sunday, the Lankan navy claimed to have destroyed a logistics supply boat of the LTTE, killing four Sea Tiger cadres on board off the northern coast.
Spokesperson, Commander DKP Dassanayake, said a naval fast attack craft on routine patrol intercepted "the 16-meter long LTTE logistic boat carrying war-like materials 12 nautical miles northeast of Point Pedro around 12.20 a.m. (on Sunday)".
"We opened heavy fire at the LTTE boat when it attempted to flee upon interception, destroying it completely. We suspect at least four Sea Tiger cadres aboard the boat were killed in this incident," he told IANS.
On Dec 20, the navy had claimed to have destroyed a medium-size arms vessel of the LTTE after a brief pre-dawn sea battle off the northeastern Mullaittivu coast.