May 28, 2006 (AFP) – Sri Lankan authorities Sunday found the mutilated bodies of seven local tourists believed to have been killed by an explosion in a wildlife sanctuary near a conflict zone, police said. Five of the bodies could be identified — two women and three men — while the remains of two others were mutilated beyond recognition after the blast at the Wilpattu national park, military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said.
“There were three simultaneous explosions that left only the chassis of their four-wheel drive vehicle,” Samarasinghe said adding that officials blamed the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the killing.
“The motive may have been to scare off tourists from the area or they may have thought security personnel were travelling in the vehicle.”
The explosion was reported Saturday, but the authorities could not reach the area until Sunday evening, Samarasinghe said.
The Wilpattu park, which is noted for leopards and elephants, is within an area under government control, south of the Mannar district which is partly under Tamil rebel control. There has been an upsurge since December in violence between the rebels and government forces in the north and east de