At least 17 people were killed and 39 more were injured as a huge explosion hit Sri Lankan capital Colombo late Wednesday afternoon, defense officials said.
Military Spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said the explosion occurred in a business district in Colombo's southeastern suburb of Nugegoda around 5:50 p.m. (1220 GMT), and the explosion also caused fire in the area.
Sri Lankan police officers survey the scene of a bomb explosion near a shopping centre in a Colombo suburb Nov. 28, 2007. At least 17 people were killed and 39 more were injured as a huge explosion hit Sri Lankan capital Colombo late Wednesday afternoon, defense officials said. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Defense officials said at least 17 people have been confirmed dead in the explosion and 37 others were injured and rushed to local hospitals, adding that four of the injured were in critical condition.
The government has blamed the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for the explosion.
Initial investigations show that the bomb was inside an unattended parcel which was found at the counter of a shopping complex.
Sri Lankan hospital staff carry a wounded child for treatment at the Kalubowila hospital in Colombo. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Some vehicles were caught fire following the explosion.
Early on Wednesday, a female Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed one people and injured two others after exploding herself near the office of Douglas Devananda, a pro-government Tamil politician and the minister of Social Services and Welfare.
Fortunately, Devananda himself escaped the suicide attack.
The two attacks came just one day after the LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran delivered his annual policy speech.
"Thousands of our fighters are standing ready to fight with determination for our just goal of freedom and we will overcome the hurdles before us and liberate our motherland," the LTTE leader said on Tuesday.
Claiming discrimination at the hands of the Sinhala majority, the LTTE has been fighting the government since the mid-1980s to establish a separate homeland for the minority Tamils in the north and east.
More than 5,000 people have been killed in the new wave of violence since the end of 2005. Source: Xinhua