Suicide bombings in Sri Lanka

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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 to civilian, economic and military targets.[1][failed verification]

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

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.[4]

On Easter Sunday (21 April) 2019, approximately 250 people died in six separate suicide bombings in churches and hotels. The local group National Thowheeth Jama'ath, was suspected.[5]

List of suicide attacks[edit]

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
1998 Temple of the Tooth attack 25 January 1998 Kandy, Central Province 17
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
Akuressa suicide bombing March 10, 2009 Akuressa, Southern Province 14
2019 Sri Lanka Easter bombings April 21, 2019 Negombo, Batticaloa, and Colombo (including Kochchikade, Dehiwala, and Dematagoda suburbs) 253


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.[7][8] He is heralded by the LTTE as the first Black Tiger.

The use of suicide bombing by the LTTE became 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 had Thenmozhi Rajaratnam blow herself up at a campaign rally for Rajiv Gandhi, killing him and 14 other bystanders.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sri Lanka (LTTE) Historical Background". IISS Armed Conflict Database. International Institute for Strategic Studies. 2003. Archived from the original on 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  2. ^ "LTTE's bomb Attack - Sri Dalada Maligawa in Sri Lanka". Society for Peace, Unity and human Rights in Sri Lanka. January 1998. Archived from the original on 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
  3. ^ "LTTE Tamil Tiger suicide bomb attack near Sambuddhaloka temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka targeting civilians". Society for Peace, Unity and Human Rights in Sri Lanka. 16 May 2008. Archived from the original on 31 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  4. ^ "Suicide terrorism: a global threat". Jane's Information Group. 20 October 2000. Archived from the original on February 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-09.
  5. ^ "Sri Lanka attacks: Death toll soars to 290 after bombings hit churches and hotels". BBC News. 22 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Sri Lanka attacks: Death toll soars to 290 after bombings hit churches and hotels". BBC News. 22 April 2019. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  7. ^ Secrets of their success
  8. ^ Suicide bombers feared and revered
  9. ^ Ramesh Vinayak (1 February 1999). "The Nation: Terrorism: The RDX Files". Archived from the original on 9 October 2010. Retrieved 7 March 2010.