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The Central Bank bombing was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks carried out by the LTTE during the Separatist civil war in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tigers. The attack took place on January 31, 1996, in the Sri Lankan city of Colombo. A lorry (42-6452) containing about 440 pounds of high explosives crashed through the main gate of the Central Bank, a seaside high-rise which managed most of the financial business of the country. As gunmen traded fire with security guards, the suicide bomber in the lorry detonated the massive bomb, which tore through the bank and damaged eight other buildings nearby . The lorry was followed by a three-wheeler, carrying two LTTE cadres armed with automatic rifles and an RPG launcher.
The blast killed at least 91 people and injured 1,400 others. At least 100 people lost their eyesight . Among the wounded were two US citizens, six Japanese, and one Dutch national. Most of these were bystanders or civilians manning small shops set up near the bank. While the bomber Raju died immediately, the back up team Subramanium Vigneswaram alias Kittu, and Sivasamy Dharmendra alias Raju, were apprehended by law enforcement with information provided by the public. Police and the security forces launched a massive manhunt for others who were involved in this terrorist incident. It was eventually determined the bombers had come from Jaffna, in the north of the country and were LTTE members .
This bombing, and one in July on a train that killed more than 70, caused tourism to plummet 40% in Sri Lanka. Until 2006, the Central Bank bombing was the deadliest LTTE bombing of the civil war.
Attack was mainly carried out by three LTTE cadres. While one of them died immediately the rest were taken into custody by the police. The suicide bombers were:
- Raju (main bomber)
- Subramanium Vigneswaram alias Kittu
- Sivasamy Dharmendra alias Raju
Eleven LTTE members were charged with the bombing of the Central Bank, ten of them were indicted on a total of 712 counts, including intention to cause death and committing murder, destruction of state property by attacking the central bank, and provoking violence.
In 2002 Judge Sarath Ambepitiya issued an open warrant to arrest LTTE's exclusive leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran in connection with the 1996 Central Bank Bombing. The judge found him guilty on 51 counts and sentenced him to 200 years in prison.
- List of massacres in Sri Lanka
- List of attacks attributed to the LTTE
- List of attacks attributed to Sri Lankan government forces
- 1996: in Sri Lanka suicide bombing, bbc.co.uk
- Timeline of the Tamil conflict, BBC NEWS
- LTTE Lunatics Explodes Massive Truck Bomb in Central Colombo
- Sri Lanka's Ethnic Crisis & National Security by Rohan Gunaratna, ISBN 955-8093-00-9 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK]
- (K) Appendix B: Background Information on Terrorist Groups
- Central Banking Publications Ltd