Claymore causes carnage in Sri Lanka hinterland

KEBITIGOLLEWA, Sri Lanka, June 15, 2006 (AFP) – The crowded bus was ferrying mothers and children to a free medical clinic in central Sri Lanka, but many ended up in a make-shift morgue after a landmine blast by suspected Tamil rebels. The yellow and green bus, meant to carry only 60 passengers, was already loaded with more than 160 passengers and slowly crossing an area known for wild elephants when the bomb ripped it apart.

“According to the bus crew, they had issued 164 tickets, but it is possible there were more people travelling,” a police official at the scene told AFP.

A heap of slippers and shoes lay among the blood-soaked floorboards of the bus.

The driver’s side of the bus was peppered with shrapnel holes made by hundreds of pellets packed into the Claymore mines.

A 67-year-old woman said all she heard was a huge explosion and remembers the bus toppling.

“That’s all I can remember,” she said amid sobs. “There were dead bodies all around me.”

M. Jayawardene, an elderly farmer, said his daughter was among those killed in the blast.

“She had got into the bus a few minutes before it was hit. I came here when I heard the explosion. I clambered into the bus. There were people fallen everywhere and I saw