Sri Lanka bomb blast outside capital injures 17: military

Feb 23, 2008 (AFP) – A parcel bomb exploded on a bus in a Colombo suburb on Saturday, wounding at least 17 people in the latest in a string of violent attacks, the defence ministry said. But casualties would have been far greater if an alert passenger had not spotted the booby-trapped package and shouted at people to get out of the vehicle, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.

The blast occurred outside a court house in Mount Lavinia town.

“I noticed a parcel left behind on a vacant seat. When no-one claimed it, I alerted the bus crew and shouted at people to get off,” passenger Mervyn Silva told AFP.

The driver then moved the bus towards an isolated spot and the crew went to inform a nearby police station when the explosion took place, injuring passersby, the ministry said.

Nine men, seven women and a child suffered minor injuries in the blast and were admitted to a nearby hospital, the ministry said.

“The private bus was completely destroyed by fire from the explosion,” the defence ministry said.

No one claimed responsibility for the attack, but in the past the government has blamed rebels fighting for independence for Sri Lanka’s minority