ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 49

For this Aravinda it was not cricket — but bullets

While stray shots hit houses many thought Lanka was winning the match

By Isuri Kaviratne

The night of April 28, 2007 will live in the memory of Lankans for a long time to come. For some, because Sri Lanka was playing the Cricket World Cup final and for some others because of their memories of the LTTE air raid over Colombo which was met with anti-aircraft fire from Government forces.

As the night sky lit up with the gunfire, spent bullets fell into several houses injuring their occupants. Residents from Wattala, Kolonnawa, Ratmalana, Madiwela and Colombo were among those injured. At least six people had to be hospitalised as a result.

Gayan Aravinda (17) of Weliamuna was among the few who were injured due to the attacks. Recounting the incident, he said he was sleeping when he heard huge noises and thought that the Lankan cricket team was winning the match and that people were firing crackers to celebrate.

Aravinda displaying his patched up wound caused by a stray bullet. Inset: Lasantha whose house was badly damaged Pix by Lakshman Gunathilake

“I didn’t watch the match on TV because no one was there to watch it with me. I was sleeping when I felt something sharp hitting me at around 1 or 1.30 a.m. and I called my mother. The electricity had been cut at that time and it took some time for my family to figure out what injured me and then I was taken to hospital”, he said.

The bullet had come through the roof and ricocheted off the wall at Aravinda.“I am lucky it didn’t hit me directly,” he said.

The bullet was removed and the wound stitched at the hospital.“I was not that afraid but my mother was”, he said adding that Police and Air Force officials came to see him. “The Air Force officials had told the hospital authorities that I would be compensated but I told them that I didn’t need the money”, Aravinda said. He said nobody in the neighbourhood gave a care for the noise as every one thought that Sri Lanka was winning the match.

“We think those sounds were from shots fired from the harbour area,” he said. Gayan Lasantha said his house in Balagala was severely damaged due to the attack.

“My mother and I were watching the match on TV when the power went off and I went out to see what had happened. Then I saw a plane flying. It was dark and the lights of the plane were not on, but I saw it by the light of the moon”, Lasantha said.

“Then I heard a blasting sound coming from the harbour area and I called my mother out to have a look”, he said adding that it was good she came out because when they re-entered the house it was filled with smoke.He said the police told him a small bomb had hit his house.

“It had blasted on the roof and pieces had scattered. Shrapnel from the bomb had pierced the roof, the walls, the ceiling fan and our cabinet,” he said.

“The Police came in the evening because we made an entry but other than that no Government officials came to see the damage caused by the attacks,” Lasantha said.

Ranil Algama said his house on Havelock Road too was damaged due to the retaliatory fire.“A bullet pierced a wall and another came through the roof of the garage. I didn’t inform the police because I thought with incidents happening around the city being far worse than mine, my story wouldn’t interest them,” he said.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.