Colombo, Feb 2: At least 20 people were killed and over 50 wounded when a powerful bomb went off inside a crowded bus at Dambulla town in the central province this morning, defence sources said.
''A powerful bomb went off inside a civilian passenger bus at Dambulla bus stand killing 20 passengers and wounding 50,'' Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said. The wounded passengers have been rushed to Dambulla, Matale and Kurunagala hospitals. The ill-fated bus, travelling from the Central Kandy district towards the ancient capital of Anuradhapura in the north-western province, was badly damaged in the blast.
Brigadier Nanayakkara said most of the passengers were devotees travelling to take part in the "nelum mal"0 (lotus flower) pooja in the sacred city of Anuradhapura. ''This is obviously the work of the LTTE terrorists who are unable to face the military pressure in the north,'' Brigadier Nanayakkara said.
He said police and security force personnel were probing the blast. The latest bomb blast has occurred when the security arrangements throughout the country, mainly in and around the capital city of Colombo, have been stepped up ahead of the 60th Independence Day celebration on February 4.
The key national event is scheduled to take place at Galle Face Green in the heart of Colombo city with military parades that would showcase the military strength of the security forces.