Sri Lankans pray for miracles as civilians pay high price

KAHAPOLA, Sri Lanka, April 27, 2008 (AFP) – With both hands clasped, Pat Amarasinghe prays before a Buddha statue seeking divine help for the impossible — to bring back her son, Ishara, who died in a bus blast in Sri Lanka.

Ishara and his fiancee, Geethika, both 24, were among 26 people killed when suspected Tamil Tiger rebels set off a powerful bomb inside a packed state-run bus on Friday.

Another 60 passengers escaped with injuries.
The red bus travelling from the outskirts of Colombo to Kahapola was carrying more than 100 office workers and school children, returning from private tuition.

White flags line the streets of Kahapola, 30 kilometres (19 miles) from Colombo, as people mourn the deaths of friends, neighbours and relatives who perished in the bombing.

“We know of at least nine deaths in this area,” said a local policeman. “Most were office workers and children returning to their homes. The village is in mourning.”

Ishara Amarasinghe and Geethika Wijeratne had left their work in Colombo early that evening to be in time for a religious ceremony at the local Buddhist temple. “They usually don’t take the 157 bus so early,” cried Pat Amarasinghe.

“What have I done? He was innocent. He w