103 SL sailors killed in LTTE attack

At least 150 others are also hurt in the attack on a Sri Lankan naval convoy, reports PK Balachandran. Your take

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 21:41 IST

At least103 Sri Lankan naval personnel were killed and nearly 150 were injured, when a truck laden with explosives rammed into a convoy of 15 buses carrying the servicemen at Diganpathana near Habarana in North Central Sri Lanka on Monday.

The Sri Lankan Presidential Secretariat attributed the suicide attack to the LTTE.

The military spokesman, Brig Prasad Samarasinghe, said that the explosives laden truck had swerved from a side road and rammed into the naval convoy on the main road.

Thirteen buses were wrecked in the blast. The injured were immediately rushed to nearby hospitals in five buses.

The dead and injured were unarmed sailors, the Presidential Secretariat said in a statement.

The carnage was yet another example of the LTTE's "cowardly use of extreme violence against unarmed services personnel," the statement said.

It was further proof of the LTTE's "unmitigated commitment to violence to achieve its ends."

It was in total disregard of the international demand that the LTTE abandon violence and seek a peaceful way of achieving its goals, the statement said.

"It was significant that this attack took place as envoys from Japan, the US and Norway were arriving here to discuss progress in the peace process and the up coming talks in Geneva," the statement pointed out.

It also said that the place of attack was not in the war-zone.

Habarana is a tourist spot, 143 km from Colombo and 80 km from Trincomalee.

But it is near Minneriya, a major army base charged with the task of defending Batticaloa district. In the light of the blast, the efforts of US official Richard Boucher, the Japanese envoy Yasushi Akashi, and the Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer over the next few days might not bear fruit, political observers feared.

Significantly, thee carnage coincided with a judgment of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court on Monday declaring the merger of the Northern and Eastern Provinces into a single Tamil dominated province as "invalid".

The judgment was expected to trigger resentment among the Tamils and the Tamil Tigers, as the merger of the North and East to form a single Tamil province had been one of their cardinal and long standing demands.

First Published: Oct 16, 2006 16:06 IST