got closer and closer and then a bang...
As pandemonium reigned in Colombo following Friday’s LTTE
suicide bomb attack on Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, security
has been beefed up with the Army, Air Force and Police carrying
out cordon and search operations in and around the city.
Police sources told The Sunday Times that house-to house search
operations had been carried out in cordon and search operations
at Kadawatha, Kirulapone, Wellawatte and Narahenpita. Friday’s
attack prompted some schools and offices to close earlier than scheduled
with panic-stricken parents rushing to schools to take their children
The bullet-proof BMW vehicle that probably saved Gotabhaya’s
The school closest to the site of the attack, Bishops
College, was in the middle of a Christmas carol service when the
bomb exploded. The Sunday Times learns that students had been asked
to lie down on the floor as a precautionary measure. Meanwhile,
security of VIPs will be strengthened as the LTTE’s latest
modus operandi appears to be attacking isolated targets. Director
of Ministerial Security Division SSP Sarath Perera said they are
already providing security for 153 MPs and 43 non-members of parliament
adding that they hope to increase the security personnel for most
VIPs under LTTE threat.
This suicide attack on Friday comes just three
weeks after Tamil National Alliance Parlimentarian N. Raviraj’s
assassination. Police Chief Victor Perera assured the public then
that security in the city would be tightened and the government
promised to bring Scotland Yard detectives to assist the CID in
The Defence Secretary had left his official residence
and was on his way to meet his brother, President Mahinda Rajapaksa
for a Security Council meeting at the president’s official
residence Temple Trees when the bomber driving a red three wheeler
attempted to ram the security convoy at the Pittala Junction in
Colombo-3. Two soldiers who were part of the security contingent
died while 18 others were injured.
suicide bomber who had apparently being carrying ten kilograms of
explosives in his three wheeler had been following Mr. Rajapaksa’s
convoy for some time. According to eye witnesses, the three-wheeler
had been directed to move away from the convoy as it attempted to
get closer to it. The bomber struck as the convoy halted due to
the morning traffic. He had apparently detonated himself by triggering
a switch in the three-wheeler, security sources say.
Mr. Rajapaksa who was unharmed mainly because
of the bullet proof BMW 7 series vehicle he was travelling in and
the backup vehicle that cut across the path of the three-wheeler,
was immediately escorted out of his vehicle and rushed to the Temple
Trees in another backup vehicle while commandos shot in the air
to clear the area of traffic.
The body of the suspected suicide bomber, whose
head had been severed from the rest of his body was found lying
on top of a vehicle that was part of Mr. Rajapaksa’s escort..
The body was taken away immediately for investigations. Ajith Kumara
, one of the commando’s assigned to protect the Defence Secretary
describing his near death experience told The Sunday Times that
they had noticed a red three wheeler following them for some time.
“We blew our whistles at the three-wheeler
and even pointed guns at him to scare him off but he kept coming
closer and closer to the convoy. The driver appeared to be in a
great hurry and just as we took aim to fire at the tyres of the
three wheeler, we got caught in the traffic and he got closer to
us and detonated himself in the three-wheeler,” Ajith said.
“We then realized it was a suicide bomber
and soon the whole place was covered in thick black smoke and there
was chaos. I ran to Mr. Rajapaksa’s vehicle helped him to
get out of it and put him in one of our Defender’s. We shot
in the air to clear the area of people and stop vehicles moving
in so that we could rush him to the President’s house,”
K. Jayatissa a security guard at one of the offices
close to the scene and who had been injured in the blast and was
receiving treatment at the National Hospital said he saw the VIP
convoy making its way before it got caught in the traffic at the
Pittala junction. “The next moment I was thrown off by the
impact of the blast. I was unconscious for a few seconds and when
I came around I saw a massive ball of fire and people running here
“Just before the blast I saw commandos of
the Defence Secretary blowing their whistles and shouting at the
suspected three-wheeler . As soon as the convoy had to stop because
of the traffic, the three-wheeler that attempted to ram into Mr.
Rajapaksa’s convoy was blocked by one of the backup vehicles
which he rammed into and then exploded. ”Due to the impact
I was thrown away and was unconscious for a few minutes,”
another eye witness Mahinda Gunasekara who was receiving treatment
at the hospital said.
Meanwhile making a statement after the attempt
on his life the Gotabaya Rajapaksa who is a retired Army Colonel
said, "I take this opportunity to inform you that I am not
ready to abandon the responsibility we have towards the country,
in the face of such cowardly attacks by the LTTE, and to reaffirm
our commitment to the national need to defeat the LTTE's terrorism.”
The United States and Britain have strongly condemned the attack
on Mr. Rajapaksa British Prime Minister Tony Blair conveyed his
regret and condemnation in a phone call to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.