Official: Accidental blast kills 25 in Sri Lanka

Image: A man stands next to a truck destroyed in an explosion in Batticaloa
A man stands next to a truck destroyed in an explosion in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, on Friday.Ho / Reuters
/ Source: news services

A truck carrying explosives accidentally detonated outside a police station in eastern Sri Lanka Friday, killing at least 25 people, government officials said.

"Sixty people inside the police station have been killed. Most of them are policemen," military spokesman Major-General Ubaya Medawela said. He said three containers of dynamite had been stored at the police station for safety reasons.

The blast took place in the Batticaloa district, a former conflict area where the government has initiated a major construction drive following the end of the three-decade civil war with Tamil Tiger rebels last year, military spokesman Lakshman Hulugalla said.

The now-defeated rebels once controlled the area, and carried out hundreds of bombings against government targets and civilians there. The government has launched reconstruction projects to build roads, reservoirs and other infrastructure in the region.

The truck was parked next to the police station in Karadiyanaru, near the eastern port of Batticaloa, when it exploded, Medawela said. The explosives were to be delivered to a rock quarry, he said.

Hulugalla said the explosives were to be used in a construction project being carried out by a Chinese firm. He ruled out any possibility of sabotage, calling it "an accidental explosion."

The dead included two construction workers from China, and the station suffered significant damage, police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said.

Earlier reports had suggested the explosion was linked to a police ammunition dump.