Lanka: Public support sought to prevent blasts

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Colombo, Nov 29: Sri Lankan military today further tightened the security in and around the city and urged the general public to be 'extra-vigilant" and immediately inform the defence authorities of any suspicious parcels or objects in their vicinity.

The appeal by the defence authorities has come a day after a twin bomb attack in the city blamed on the Tamil Tiger rebels left at least 19 people killed and 40 more wounded.

''The LTTE, which is unable to face the military in the northern and eastern theatres have resorted to these cowardly acts. We urge the people to be extra-vigilant and cooperate with the authorities,'' Military Spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara told the sources over the phone.

Brig Nanayakkara also advised public that they should not try and check any suspicious parcels or objects as it could lead to serious consequences to the public to inform regarding any suspicious person or object.

''The military has received reliable information that a couple of groups (LTTE) have come to Colombo and other areas to engage in such activities.'' Brig Nanayakkara said.

We believe that the abortive assassination bid on Minister Douglas Devananda was also part of their activities. We will be able to find out the activities of these groups if the people could extend their fullest support, he said.

The government has also announced compensation to the blast victims.

During the rush hour last evening, a powerful parcel bomb exploded at a textile shopping complex at Nugegoda just south of Colombo killing at least 18 and wounding 39 including children. Many of them are still undergoing treatment at the Colombo national hospitals.

Earlier yesterday morning, a suspected disabled LTTE suicide bomber with explosives hidden in her bra, blew herself up inside the office complex of Social Services Minister Devananda, killing his public relation officer and wounding two of his security guards.

However, Minister Devananda, who is also the leader of the Eelam People"s Democratic Party (EPDP), an ally in President Mahinda Rajapaksa"s ruling coalition escaped unhurt in yet another attempt on his life.

The twin blasts in Colombo took place exactly a day after Sri Lankan Air Force carried out a precision air raid on rebels" radio station, Voice of Tigers (VOT), minutes before the LTTE leader Prabhakaran"s annual speech.

The rebels alleged that 11 civilians including three staff attached to the VOT were killed in the raid and 15 others wounded.


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