Convoy attack kills 20

[TamilNet, Friday, 24 September 1999, 14:12 GMT]
Twenty Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers were killed and 27 others wounded when the vehicle in which they were traveling was hit by a claymore mine blast around noon today in Batticaloa town. SLA soldiers fired indiscriminately, wounding two civilians, sources said.

The vehicle was a part of the SLA convoy on its way to Polonnaruwa, security sources said. Four of the wounded soldiers are in a critical condition, hospital sources said.

The Batticaloa District Military Coordinating Authority, Brigadier A.R.M. Zackie went to Batticaloa hospital to see the wounded soldiers, sources said.

Describing the attack, SLA sources told TamilNet that a military convoy comprising fifteen vehicles carrying SLA, Air Force and Police personnel left the headquarters of the SLA's 233 Brigade this morning at about 11.45.

As the convoy, which was heading towards Polonnaruwa by the Thandavenveli-Trincomalee road, passed near a boutique, a blast hit two buses carrying SLA troops, they said.

The SLA says a large claymore mine had been concealed in the roof of the boutique. Residents in the Batticaloa reportedly heard the sound of the explosion 5 km away.

Following the blast, security personnel manning several check points in the town opened fire indiscriminately, sources said.

Roads leading to Thandavenveli, Kottaimunai and Puliyantheivu were immediately closed down by Sri Lankan troops, and search operations were conducted.

Tension prevailed in the town, residents said. Schools and shops were closed down as panic-stricken parents rushed to take their children home.

Today's attack took place on the Thandavanveli- Trincomalee road, 500 meters away from the spot where a similar claymore attack on another military convoy, also bound for Polonnaruwa from Batticaloa on August 11, killed eleven military -trained policemen and wounded 19.

Sri Lankan security services in the Batticaloa district move Army, Air Force and Police personnel in military convoys to and from regions outside the district as the hinterland beyond the Batticaloa lagoon is under the control of the LTTE.

Security sources said they had previously discovered other claymore-type devices in sweeps preceding the movement of military convoys.


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