Sri Lankan president urges calm after bus blast

Feb 2, 2008 (AFP) – Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse blamed Tamil Tiger guerrillas for a bomb Saturday on a bus that killed at least 20 people, urging citizens not to be provoked by the rebels “brutality.” The parcel bomb went off as the crowded bus, carrying many Buddhist pilgrims belonging to the ethnic Sinhalese majority, stopped in Dambulla, 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of Colombo, to collect more passengers.

The attack “shows the reality of the struggle we have to face to eliminate terrorism from our country,” Rajapakse said in a statement, urging people to remain calm and avoid being “provoked by the brutality” of the Tigers.

There has been no comment from the Tamils yet on the attack, the latest in a string of deadly bomb blasts this year, and comes two days ahead of Sri Lanka’s 60th independence day celebrations.

The Tamil rebels are “eager to create a backlash (by the Sinhalese majority) to obtain the sympathy of the international community” for their long fight for an independent homeland, Rajapakse said.

In 1983, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) rebels blew up 13 Sinhalese troops, trigg