Seventy-six Bahrain-bound Sri Lankan Airlines passengers were all reported safe Tuesday night after escaping a terrorist attack on Colombo's airport that left 20 people dead, officials told the Gulf Daily News.
Another 250 passengers due to fly to Colombo Tuesday night were stranded in Bahrain when their Sri Lankan Airlines and Gulf Air flights were cancelled, said the paper.
The pre-dawn raid by Tamil separatists on Bandaranaike International Airport sent more than 1,200 foreign tourists fleeing from the passenger terminal.
The attack on the civilian facility followed the group’s initial storming of an adjacent air force base.
Passengers and airport personnel scrambled to evade the gunfire between members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan military and police units.
Eight air force officers and four army commandos were wounded in the attack, along with a Sri Lankan Airlines Russian flight attendant and a Sri Lankan television newscaster, said the paper.
The rebels also blew up 13 military and civilian aircraft, including five Air Lankan Airlines aircraft that were being readied for service on an airport apron.
It is believed one of the commercial planes destroyed was the one used in the Colombo-Doha-Bahrain sector, the paper added.
Sri Lankan Airlines Bahrain sales manager Dilip de Alwis said the 281-seat Airbus A330 was scheduled to depart Colombo at 3:45pm Tuesday.
“The flight would have arrived in Bahrain at 5:45pm yesterday after a stop-over in Doha,” he continued.
De Alwis said 175 passengers were booked on the inbound flight, 99 of whom would have got off in Doha.
“Everyone is safe and will remain in five-star hotels across Colombo until we can make arrangements to bring them home,” he continued.
De Alwis said he was not sure if any of the Bahrain-bound passengers were in the terminal when the attack occurred.
“All I can confirm is that everyone is safe,” he said – Albawaba.com
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