DAMBULA, SRI LANKA – Terrorism may be senseless at times, but can anything make less sense than bombing a bus full of elderly religious pilgrims?
I worked in counterterrorism for 15 years. I have spent the last five years of my life studying and commenting on terrorism in my books, blogs and podcasts. Nothing surprises me anymore.
It is one thing for a terrorist or a terrorist group to target someone or several someones who can defend themselves. Like an army or a police station. It is quite another to attack a gathering that cannot do so and which furthermore has no business being targeted in the first place.
What then do we make of the atrocity featured today?
On this day in 2008
A bomb tore through a packed bus carrying mostly elderly Buddhist pilgrims in central Sri Lanka, killing 18 people and wounding 51 others. The top and sides of the bus were ripped apart in the force of the blast. A severed hand could be seen among the blood-stained bags, glass and other debris strewn several metres from the vehicle.
I do not remember what happened next, but I was running on the road. I saw my conductor fallen on the ground. He too got up and started running with me.Bus driver account
While the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were the most likely culprit, the terrorist organisation routinely denied such acts. In all honesty, I do not give a rat’s posterior who did it: who can ever justify such an act against elderly pilgrims?
Go on, I’ll wait.