Colombo, Nov 28 (UNI) At least 16 civilians were killed and more than 20 wounded when a powerful bomb went off near a crowded retail shopping building at Nugegoda in the south of Colombo this evening, military sources said.
Tamil Tiger rebels have been blamed for the blast.
The explosion took place at a time when roads were jammed with traffic and people were returning home after work.
Local television channels showed the pictures of motor bikes and buildings caught in flames following the blast and the fire brigade personnel dousing the fire at the blast site.
Military officials attached to the Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) said the bomb went off when private security guard personnel attached to the 'Nolimit' textile shop attempted to check a suspicious parcel at the parcel counter.
The Kalubhowila hospital in the Colombo south has received 16 dead bodies and not less than 20 wounded people from the blast site so far, the military official said.
''This is a cowardly act of the LTTE and there is no doubt about that,'' he said, expressing fear that the casualty figure might rise.
This was the second explosion in Colombo today.
The first explosion took place in the morning when an LTTE woman suicide cadre blew herself up inside the office premises of Social services and Social welfare Ministry at Isipattana Mawatta in Colombo, killing one and wounding two more.