Another Victim Of Plane Explosion Dies
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ A pregnant, newlywed passenger injured by the terrorist bomb that ripped apart an Airlanka jetliner at Colombo international airport died today in a hospital, raising the death toll to 16.
A spokesman for the Ministry of National Security identified the victim as Hanna Mahmoud, wife of the first secretary to the Palestine Liberation Organization mission in the Maldivian capital of Male.
Mrs. Mahmoud was blown off the Airlanka Tristar plane by the May 3 explosion, said Attalla Quibia of the PLO mission in Colombo.
She boarded the plane to join her husband in Male, he said.
″I put her on the plane and was walking into the terminal when the bomb went off, injuring me slightly. I rushed back to the aircraft to her seat and found it empty with her handbag on it. She had been blown off the plane,″ Quibia said.
The government spokesman, Albert Fernando, said Mrs. Mahmoud was pregnant and had been married five months ago.
Lalith Athulathmudali, the national security minister, told Parliament Thursday that police have made some arrests in connection with the bombing, but he did not say how many were held or when they were taken. No one had been formally charged.
A senior police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said five people, including a Tamil customs officer, were being held for questioning.
The government has blamed Tamil guerrillas for the blast.
Tamils comprise about 18 percent of Sri Lanka’s 15 million population. Most Tamils are Hindus, and they say they are discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese, most of whom are Buddhist.
Extremist Tamils are fighting for an independent homeland in the northern and eastern part of the island nation off southern India. More than 4,000 people have died in three years of violence related to the Tamils’ campaign.