Arrests in Batticaloa over Colombo blast
[TamilNet, Friday, 06 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Police took into custody nine persons from Batticaloa this morning in connection with the bomb blast near downtown Colombo yesterday.
The Police arrested a woman identified as Pushpa Pulendran, allegedly the wife of the person who, according to the police, had driven the bus carrying explosives, from Batticaloa to Colombo.
Another person, a male, identified as Kaanthan was also arrested. Both of them were arrested in Eravur, a predominantly Muslim town 15 kilometers north of Batticaloa town.
However, the Police are yet to determine whether the driver who blew himself up yesterday was Pulendran or someone else; and whether the bomb in the mini-bus was assembled in Colombo.
Meanwhile, an unconfirmed report this evening said that Pulendran was arrested in Colombo today.
Another person, a Muslim identified as Nazeer, was also arrested by a special team of the Police this morning in Eravur.
A coconut seller in the Batticaloa market was taken into custody today, also in connection with the Colombo blast.
Five other people were arrested in and around Batticaloa town this morning by the Police. Their identities were, however, not revealed by the Batticaloa Police 'for security reasons'.
The Police say that they have gathered evidence from the registration of the mini-bus which was used in the blast that several people from the Batticaloa district, including Muslims, have been involved in the Maradana bomb.
The bomb in the mini-bus was expertly assembled to hit a motorcade, the government forensic analyst said yesterday.
The Police claim that the bomb was assembled in Batticaloa by the Liberation Tigers to hit the motorcade of a senior government politician yesterday.
The owner of the bus, a Muslim woman identified as Mrs. Rahumania of 234 R.C road, Eravur, is said to be residing abroad.
The air-conditioned bus had been used on a daily passenger service between Colombo and Kattankudy, a Muslim dominated town 7 kilometers south of Batticaloa.
Elsewhere, The Sri Lankan army (SLA) from the Kommathurai camp, 16 kilometers from Batticaloa and adjacent to Chenkalady junction, has arrested and detained 25 Tamils during a cordon and search operation in the area this morning.
The Eravur Vipulananda Mahaviththiyalayam school was closed today by the SLA for this purpose. The school compound is contiguous with Chenkalady town which is Tamil dominated. The SLA operation was also prompted by the blast in Maradana in Colombo yesterday said sources.
The Sri Lankan Police also maintain that the bombs which hit the downtown area of Colombo on October 15 last year and the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy on January 25 were assembled and sent from Batticaloa.