Today's Paper

Another blast in the heart of Colombo

B. Muralidhar Reddy

Dassanayake killing shows LTTE’s disregard for human values: Rajapaksa

COLOMBO: Close on the heels of Tuesday’s roadside bomb explosion that killed Minister D.M. Dassanayake, a big blast occurred close to the government-owned Lake House Group of Publications in the heart of the national capital at 7.50 p.m. Police said the explosion was triggered inside a public phone booth and there were no casualties or serious damage to property.

Hours before the blast, the Sri Lanka Defence Ministry said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) would continue to carry out ‘cowardly attacks’ in the South, to divert the attention of the security forces from the Northern battlefronts.

Cooperation sought

On the assassination of Mr. Dassanayake, the Ministry said: “Presently, the LTTE is suffering ignominious defeats at the hands the security forces that are determined to liberate the whole Northern Province. The observers highlight that this is the time where all citizens must be vigilant and give their fullest corporation to the security forces to conduct effective counter-terrorist operations.”

The Ministry said that as Minister of Nation Building, Mr. Dassanayake was directly in charge of rehabilitation and reconstruction work in the Eastern Province that was ‘liberated’ from the clutches of the LTTE some months ago.

Mr. Dassanayake’s killing deserved the most vehement and unequivocal condemnation by all those who respect democracy, desire peace and value human life, the Ministry said.

In a statement, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said the assassination was yet another example of the LTTE’s continued commitment to terror and violence to achieve its separatist goals, and absolute contempt and disregard for human values and the policies and practices of democracy.

Mr. Rajapaksa said that as Minister for Nation Building, Mr. Dassanayake made it his mission to restore normality to the lives of all our people in the Eastern Province, irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

“His assassination shows that such work on behalf of the people invites the hatred of the forces of violence and terror, and gives the lie to the LTTE’s claim that it is the liberator of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.”

“Minister Dassanayake was also an exceptional representative of the people of Wayamba — the North Western Province — who was always in the forefront of activity on behalf of the rights of the people, especially in his electorate of Anamaduwa and adjacent areas,” the statement said.

Mr. Rajapaksa said a large number of Muslims driven out of Jaffna by the LTTE in 1990 in one of its worst acts of ethnic cleansing and who were now settled in camps in Puttalam district found in Mr. Dassanayake a close friend and indefatigable worker on their behalf.

Military’s claim

The military said it launched pre-emptive strikes against the LTTE in the north in keeping with the government’s intention to “salvage entrapped” Tamil civilians from the grip of the terrorist outfit.