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Blast in Colombo near Indian players' hotel

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Last updated on: August 14, 2006 18:29 IST

A powerful bomb explosion triggered panic in Colombo on Monday afternoon. The blast occurred near President Mahinda Rajapakse's official residence.

The site of the blast is 3 km away from the hotel in which the Indian cricketers are staying. The hotel has been cordoned off and the players who were in the hotel at the time of the blast are safe.

The bomb went off at the Liberty Plaza roundabout, close from the official residence of Rajapakse, police and eyewitnesses said.

Pakistan's top diplomat in Colombo escaped unhurt in the explosion triggered by theĀ LTTE, believed to be angry over Islamabad's arms support to Sri Lanka, killing seven people including four of his security guards and wounding eight others.

A claymore mine attached to an autorickshaw went off when the convoy of Bashir Wali Mohammed was passing near Liberty Plaza roundabout.

The attack came even as LTTE said 61 school children and 15 civilians were killed in two separate air raids by Sri Lankan forces in the island's embattled northeast.

Police said three bystanders were also killed and eight wounded in the Colombo attack, the first such targeting a foreign diplomat, which took place less than 200 mt from Rajapakse's Temple Trees residence.

Authorities said despite the attack, the tri-series tournament in which Indian team is playing would go ahead.

Sri Lankan government said the bombing was the work of the LTTE.

Mohammed was passing through the Kollupitiya area after attending a ceremony to mark Pakistan's Independence Day when the blast occurred.

"The high commissioner is safe. He was in the area, but he was not caught in it," High Commission press attache Suriya Jamal said adding, his car was slightly hit.

Analysts pointed out that the attack could be because of Pakistan's help to Sri Lankan government by providing arms which the security forces are using against the LTTE.

With PTI Inputs