Colombo, Feb 3: Sri Lanka will observe its 60th Independence Day on Monday, even as bomb attacks against innocent civilians, ferocious fighting with Tamil rebels and growing international concern over the island's human rights record show no signs of changing. According to local and foreign news agency reports, "Freedom Day" events in heavily-guarded Colombo will be held, despite mourning for 20 passengers killed by a bus bomb on Saturday in north-central Sri Lanka and six people injured today in a hand grenade attack at Sri Lanka's main zoo near the capital.
"Cultural and sporting events will also be held in addition to the main event in Colombo," Karu Jayasuriya, the chief organiser of the celebrations, was quoted, as saying. President Mahinda Rajapakse'sGovernment is preparing to put its military might on display at a seafront promenade in Colombo, including tanks and multi-barrel rocket launchers - the most effective weapon against the Tigers - and aircraft. Monday's celebrations are the first major national event since Colombo formally ended the Norwegian-arranged 2002 truce and vowed to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militarily.
The military will deploy 4100 troops for a ceremonial parade, in addition to drawing thousands of commandos and paramilitary police forces from the provinces to beef up security.
Sri Lanka has remained in ethnic turmoil for more than half the period since independence, with more than 60,000 people killed since 1983.