Sri Lankans live on the edge as Tamil Tigers pounce on civilians

June 8, 2008 (AFP) – Each time Indika Jayawickrema uses public transport, his wife Chamindri anxiously waits for a telephone call to let her know he has safely reached his destination. His journey is one that has become more risky recently as a wave of bomb attacks targeting civilians sweeps through Sri Lanka, which is in the midst of 36-year-old civil war.

“With a 10,000 rupee (93 dollar) monthly pay, an infant and a wife to maintain, I can only afford the bus,” he shrugs outside a bus stop in Colombo, a day after twin bus bombs on Friday killed 23 people.

Sri Lanka’s defence ministry blames Tamil Tiger rebels for a string of attacks against civilian targets that have killed more than 170 and injured over 500 since January.

Attacks against civilians are of little strategic military or political importance, but they heighten public insecurity, said Ajai Sahni, head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.

“If you look at the pattern, they (the attackers) are hitting the softest of soft targets, the poorest of the poor, the most unguarded population. The sheer volumes doesn’t allow meticulous checking to prevent future attacks,” he told AFP.

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