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Caught on camera: Lanka bra bomber's blast

Agencies
Dec 01, 2007 at 12:37pm IST

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Colombo: Security services in Colombo have released a dramatic video of a woman suicide bomber attacking a government office.

The woman, identified by police as 24-year-old Sujatha Vagawanam, is seen sitting in a busy government office moments before she stood up and detonated the bomb hidden inside her clothes on Wednesday. She was apparently on a mission to kill Sri Lankan cabinet minister Douglas Devananda.

She is seen patiently answering questions in a bustling government office before calmly standing up and detonating the bomb hidden in her bra.

The video, released by police Friday, gave a rare look at a suicide bomber's last moments and the immediate aftermath of a devastating attack.

In the footage, the bomber, wearing a yellow sari and a white shawl, calmly walked into a small waiting room at the Colombo offices of Social Services Minister Douglas Devananda on Wednesday, the day he sets aside to hear complaints from members of the public.

The woman sat down in front of a desk and answered questions from Devananda's 72-year-old aide Steven Peiris. As the two spoke, Peiris was repeatedly interrupted by other officials sitting nearby or walking past.

After nearly a minute and a half, he began gesturing for her to sit down in a nearby cluster of white plastic chairs, apparently to await a security check. She then stood up facing Peiris, reached her right hand to her right shoulder to grab something and exploded.

Peiris and the bomber, both of whom were killed, flew backward. The others in the room scrambled to run in all directions, some falling over their chairs in their haste to escape as a cloud of smoke hung in the air.

''She thought she was getting caught, so she exploded her bomb,'' said Devananda, the target of the attack.

Devananda, a Tamil politician seen as a rival to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), said the guerrillas had made more than 10 attempts on his life and killed more than 70 members of his Eelam People's Democratic Party in recent years.

''This is nothing new to me,'' he told The Associated Press in an interview at his heavily guarded home in Colombo. ''I expect that these things happen, and will happen. It will continue.''

The woman had aroused concerns in his office because she had not made an appointment and did not bring a letter of introduction from his office in her hometown of Vavuniya, on the edge of rebel-held territory, he said. Earlier police reports that she had suffered from polio and had a limp were incorrect, he said.

(From The Associated Press)

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