Colombo, Apr 25 (UNI) At least 24 civilians were killed and 40 wounded as a powerful bomb went off inside a passenger bus in Sri Lanka in a suspected handiwork of the Tamil Tiger rebels, Defence Ministry here said.
''LTTE terrorists have carried out a cowardly bomb attack targeting innocent civilians who were returning home after office hours at Pliyandala this evening,'' the Ministry said.
''Twenty-four people including a Buddhist incumbent have been killed and over 40 people have suffered injuries,'' it said, adding that most of the victims who received injuries were admitted to the teaching hospital at Kalubowila while others were rushed to the Piliyandala hospital.
It said the explosion occurred soon after the bus left the Piliyandala bus stand for Kahapola.
Police and armed force personnel have cordoned off the area and are carrying an extensive search operation, the police said.
The bus blast has come exactly two days after heavy fighting in the northern Jaffna peninsula between the government troops and the Tamil Tigers left over 150 combatants killed and a few hundreds wounded.
UNI XC AKJ GC2154