Army deserter sets off grenade in police station

Thursday, 2 December 2010 01:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

COLOMBO (Reuters) - An army deserter arrested for carrying marijuana set off a grenade in a police station in a Sri Lankan tourist destination on Wednesday, killing himself and wounding at least eight others, officials said.

The blast took place in Nuwara Eliya, a historic former “hill station” in the heart of central Sri Lanka’s tea country. It is a huge draw for tourists who want to experience one of the best living examples of British colonial life on the Indian Ocean Island.

“An army deserter who was arrested with cannabis had thrown a grenade while he was trying to escape,” police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody said.

A military official speaking on condition of anonymity said the deserter killed himself when police tried to search him. Hospital officials said 12 people were wounded.

Sri Lanka has suffered three insurgencies since 1971, including the quarter-century conflict with the Tamil Tiger separatists that ended in May 2009; so using violent means to settle personal scores remains common. Tourism has been resurgent since the end of the war. Tourist arrivals through October soared 43.5 percent year-on-year and produced a record high revenue of $437.9 million.