Four killed, 28 wounded in Colombo claymore blast

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Colombo, Jan 2 (UNI) At least four people, including an army soldier were killed and over 20 wounded when suspected Tamil Tiger rebels detonated a powerful claymore bomb in the heart of this city today, targeting a bus carrying army personnel, defence and hospital sources said.

''LTTE have carried out a cowardly bomb attack targeting civilians and an Army bus carrying sick personnel at Slave Island in Colombo this morning. Four people including one soldier and three civilians have been killed and 28 others injured in the explosion,'' the Defence Ministry said.

One woman was among the dead and there were 17 civilians and 11 soldiers among the injured.

''Four of the injured are in serious condition,'' the Defence Ministry said, adding that the bomb had been placed ''inside one of the external unit of the Air conditioning machines of the Nippon Hotel.'' Director Accidental Service of the Colombo national hospital Dr Hector Weerasinghe said at least 25 wounded people from the blast site were admitted to the hospital and three of them succumbed to their injuries on admission to the hospital.

''There are few army soldiers among the wounded and the rest of them are civilians,'' Dr Weerasinghe said, adding that most of the seriously wounded were being treated in the Intensive Care Unit.

The blast occurred at a heavily-guarded and always crowded Slave Island junction area, located a few hundred meters away from Sri Lankan Army and Air Force headquarters.

The security force personnel cordoned off the blast site and stepped up the security measures in and around the area.

The blast has occurred exactly a day after a Sri Lankan ethnic Tamil lawmaker from the main opposition United National Party (UNP), T Maheshwaran and his personal bodyguard were killed and 12 others were wounded when an unknown gunman sprayed bullets at the MP inside a crowded Hindu temple here in Colombo on Tuesday morning.

The Defence officials said the alleged Tamil gunman, who was wounded in return fire from the MP's personal security officer, has been arrested and further investigation in this regard was underway.

UNI XC RJ KN1548

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