June 6, 2008: LTTE hits two commuter buses in Sri Lanka

On June 6, 2008 bomb attacks on two commuter buses in Sri Lanka killed 22 people and injured another 100: the LTTE was suspected

COLOMBO AND KANDY DISTRICT, SRI LANKA – Nothing breeds success like success: this goes for terrorism as well.

There is a term that I have come across in terrorism reporting that is very descriptive, but disturbing. That phrase is ‘double tap strike‘. It builds on a similar notion referring to an action where a gunman shoots two bullets in rapid succession at the same target (‘double tap’).

A double tap strike is one where an initial action (military and/or terrorist) is followed very soon after by a second one and is aimed at taking out those – such as first responders – who rush to the initial scene to offer help. To my mind this is a particularly egregious form of violence.

What, we have to worry about OURSELVES getting killed as we try to help the wounded and dying? (Photo: US Army Southern European Task Force, Africa on flickr, CC BY 2.0)

A similar notion, although not perhaps 100% the same, occurs when a terrorist group carries out near simultaneous attacks on similar targets. This is what the Sri Lankan Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) did in today’s featured attack.

On this day in 2008

Bomb attacks on two commuter buses in Sri Lanka killed 22 people and injured another 100. The first of them hit a vehicle in a suburb of the capital city of Colombo, while the second struck in the central hill district of Kandy. The Colombo bus was targeted by an improvised explosive device (IED) while the latter had been placed within the vehicle.

I was standing in the middle of the bus when there was a loud noise and the whole bus toppled to the side. I blacked out for a while. There was black smoke, people were dead around me. I shouted for help and someone pulled me out.


The LTTE did not claim immediate responsibility but the attacks bore their hallmark. Carrying out two such actions in close proximity to one another strains resources and results undoubtedly in more casualties. This may not constitute a classic ‘double tap’ but it has the same consequences.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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