Sri Lanka steps up security after bus bombings
Civilians in Lanka were forced to line up for security checks before boarding buses after two weekend bomb attacks killed 21 people.Updated: Jan 11, 2007 13:14 IST
Sri Lanka on Monday stepped up security on public transport across the country after two weekend bomb attacks killed 21 passengers and wounded about 120, police said.
Passengers were forced to line up for security checks before boarding buses and trains that bring in about 70 per cent of the one million people who enter the capital daily for work, police said.
"We are having police and security forces at main bus terminals as well as volunteer groups who help with the checking," a police spokesman said.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday accused Tamil Tiger rebels of stoking an ethnic backlash by majority Sinhalese on the minority Tamil community with the attacks on innocent civilians using public transport.
"The aim of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is to have a backlash against the Tamils and to undermine our efforts to find a peaceful solution," Rajapaksa said in a statement released by his office on Sunday.
An LTTE defence spokesman, Rasiah Ilanthirayan, denied any responsibility for the blasts which occurred on a road widely used by tourists to reach southern beach resorts.
The bus bombings came as security forces stepped up an aerial bombing campaign against the Tigers in the rebel-held northeast of the island, and the guerrillas accused the military of hitting civilians.
The government information department said 15 people were killed and 47 wounded Saturday in the second bus bombing near Ambalangoda, 85 kilometres south of Colombo.
The attack followed a bus blast late on Friday when six passengers were killed and another 70 were wounded near Colombo.