Sri Lanka stages mass funerals after Freedom Day bloodshed

Feb 5, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lanka staged mass funerals for bomb blast victims on Tuesday after independence day festivities were marred by a string of attacks blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels. Scores of civilians have also died during the same period, according to both sides. No independent verification of the tolls is possible as the media and human rights groups are barred from the embattled regions.

Schools in Colombo were shut as a Buddhist service was held for seven students and their baseball coach killed in a suicide bombing at a train terminal here on Sunday on the eve of independence day.

After funeral rites, the coffins were taken to the victims’ homes for burial.

In the northeastern Weli Oya region, a funeral was held for three people killed on “freedom day” in a bomb attack on a civilian bus that left 14 people dead and 15 injured.
Five people killed on Saturday in a bus bomb attack were buried in a mass grave in Kandy district on Monday.

President Mahinda Rajapakse insists security forces are winning the battle against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and that the guerrillas have been confined to the northern region of the palm-fringed tropical island