A suspected LTTE suicide bomber attacked a gathering of muslims celebrating a religious holiday in southern Sri Lanka killing at least 15 people and seriously injuring a senior minister.
Postal Services Minister Mahinda Wijesekera was wounded and airlifted to Colombo for emergency treatment,a spokeswoman for the National Hospital in the capital said. Police and bystanders were seen lifting the badly bleeding Wijesekera into a van after the blast triggered by the bomber.
About 50 people were also injured when the suicide bomber appeared to have targeted six ministers as they walked in a procession toward a mosque in Akuressa area in Matara in the southern tip of the island to mark Milad-ud-Nabi,the birth anniversary of Prophet Mohammad. Former southern province chief minister H G Sirisena was among prominent leaders injured.
Around 10-15 people were killed as the suicide bomber struck the celebrations outside the mosque at Matara. A lot of people were blown to pieces which is making death count difficult, Matara police spokesman Ranjit Gunasekara said. Military spokesman Brig Udaya Nanayakkara said the blast was a suicide bomb attack and carried out by the LTTE.
According to an organiser,two motorcycle-borne persons were stopped from entering the Milad-un Nabi procession but one of them escaped and blew himself up in the crowd of devotees. I saw two motorcycle-borne people with something protruding in their stomach and asked the other organisers not to allow them in the procession, the organizer told a TV channel.
A traffic jam took place as the vehicles behind could not move due to the stoppage of motorcycle-borne people,he said.
In the commotion,one of the motorcycle-borne person rushed in and detonated himself,the organizer added.