Rebel Bombings Kill 23 in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- Bombs ripped through two buses in Sri Lanka on Friday, including one packed with morning commuters near the country's heavily fortified capital, officials said. At least 23 people were killed and 67 wounded.

The attacks came two days after another bombing that targeted civilians in Colombo, and authorities promptly blamed the Tamil Tiger rebels, who have made such attacks a hallmark of their 25-year fight against Sri Lanka's government.

If carried out by the rebels -- who offered no immediate comment and routinely deny any role in such bombings -- the attacks, especially the one near Colombo, would show their ability to strike deep inside government territory despite a maze of security checkpoints around the capital and its suburbs.

The first bomb was detonated along a roadside in the Colombo suburb of Moratuwa as a passenger bus went by, said military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara. It killed 21 people and wounded 47 others.

He said that a curfew has been imposed in the area to give soldiers and police a chance to search for suspected rebels.

The explosion shattered the vehicle's windows and peppered it with shrapnel. A 45-year-old man who identified himself only as Nalaka said he was thrown from his motorcycle by the explosion.

"When I got up I saw the bus and quickly got into it. Some people lay dead. Some others were bleeding," he said. "I heard somebody screaming 'help, help,' and I rushed to him, but I could not move him because he was heavy."

Hours later, another blast took place inside a bus in the hills of the central Kandy district, killing two passengers and wounding 20 other people, said police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara.