28 hurt in grenade accident
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 02 December 1997, 23:59 GMT]
Twenty five Tamil civilians were wounded when a grenade exploded in a bus on its way from Thirukkovil to Batticaloa around 12.30 p.m. today.There were about eight STF personnel in the bus said sources.
The grenade went off when the bus was passing through the village of Kaluthavalai, about eighteen km south of Batticaloa town on the Kalmunai - Batticaloa road.
Three STF men were also wounded.
The Sri Lankan Police claimed soon after the incident that the LTTE had lobbed the grenade at the bus.
But civilians in the bus who escaped unhurt claimed that the explosion had occurred when a grenade had fallen with the pin off from one of the STF men in the bus.
All the wounded civilians have been brought to the Batticaloa general hospital.
The condition of five, including a woman, is said to be serious. Community leaders and MPs in Batticaloa have frequently protested against the STF and the army getting on crowded civilian buses and other private vehicles with their weapons. Strong representations were made to the ICRC as well.
The STF and army do this almost everyday to ensure their safety when they have to travel between camps.
Traversing even short distances on the main coastal road which are nominally under government control has become risky for the Sri Lankan security forces in the Batticaloa district as the military influence of the Liberation Tigers has strongly spread into army and STF controlled areas.