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Suicide Bombing was a popular tactic of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam . According to Jane's Information Group, between 1980 and 2000, the LTTE carried out 168 suicide attacks causing heavy damage on civilian, economic and military targets.[1]

Civilians have been targeted on numerous occasions, including during a high profile attack on Colombo's International Airport in 2001 that caused damage to several commercial airliners and military jets, and killed 16 people.[2] The LTTE was also responsible for a 1998 attack on the Buddhist shrine, and UNESCO world heritage site, Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy that killed 8 worshipers. The attack was symbolic in that the shrine, which houses a sacred tooth of the Buddha, is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka.[3] Other Buddhist shrines have been attacked, notably the Sambuddhaloka Temple in Colombo that killed 9 worshipers.[4]

The LTTE's Black Tigers have carried out the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, who was killed in 1991 using a prototype suicide vest, and Ranasinghe Premadasa, assassinated in 1993.[5]

List of suicide attacksEdit

Attack Date Location Death toll Sources
Sinking of SLNS Sagarawardena September 20, 1994 Off the coast of Mannar, North Western Province 25
Dehiwala train bombing July 24, 1996 Dehiwala, Western Province 64
1997 Colombo World Trade Centre bombing October 15, 1997 Colombo, Western Province 15
Assassination of Neelan Tiruchelvam July 29, 1999 Colombo, Western Province 3
Central Bank bombing January 31, 1996 Colombo, Western Province 91
Bandaranaike Airport attack July 24, 2001 Bandaranaike International Airport, Western Province 16
2006 Digampathana bombing October 16, 2006 Digampathaha, Dambulla North Central Province (Army Personal) 92–103
2008 Sri Lanka bus bombings 2008 32
2008 Weliveriya bombing April 6, 2008 Weliveriya, Western Province 15
2008 Fort Railway Station bombing February 3, 2008 Colombo Fort, Western Province 12
Suicide Air Raid on Colombo February 20, 2009 Colombo, Western Province 2


The first prominent suicide bombing by the LTTE occurred in 1987 when Captain Miller drove a truck laden with explosives into a Sri Lankan army camp killing 40 soldiers.[6][7] He is heralded by the LTTE as the first Black Tiger.

The use of suicide bombing by the LTTE would become notorious in the 90s when they developed a unique suicide bomb vest that would be emulated by terrorist groups around the world including the Middle East. On May 21, 1991, the LTTE achieved the distinction of being the first terrorist group to kill a world leader when they had Thenmozhi Rajaratnam blow herself up at a campaign rally for Rajiv Gandhi killing him and 14 other bystanders.[8]

See alsoEdit


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