THAT 1987 GRENADE ATTACK

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The 1987 grenade attack in the Sri Lankan Parliament is an incident that shocked many and is still reflected upon today. A grenade attack took place on August 18, 1987, when an assailant hurled two grenades into a room where government Members of Parliament were meeting.

The grenades bounced off the table at which President J. R. Jayawardene and Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa were sitting, and rolled away. A Member of Parliament and a Ministry secretary were killed by the explosions. According to a government press officer who was at the meeting, pandemonium reigned following the explosions.

He said some legislators thought Parliament was under attack. Using wooden chairs, they broke the thin plate glass overlooking the Parliament lawn to escape the room, and were immediately bundled into cars and driven away.

The incident occurred as Parliament prepared to convene for the first time since the signing of an accord with India last month that was intended to end four years of warfare waged by the ethnic Tamil minority. Authorities said that instead of fleeing after the incident, those responsible might have simply stayed on the scene and blended into the chaos.

A subsequent Police investigation concluded that the grenades were thrown by a member of the banned Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) organisation, which was staging a rebellion in the country at the time. Five members of the JVP were eventually put on trial for the attack, but were acquitted, due to lack of evidence. It is believed the attack targeted President Jayawardene for his signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

Member of Parliament for the Matara District Keerthi Abeywickrama, whose face was blown off due to the explosion, was carried outside and rushed to hospital, but died on the way there. Norbert Senadeera, an official with the Parliament staff, died later of a shrapnel wound to the head. Sixteen others were injured in the attack, including National Security Advisor Lalith Athulathmudali, Prime Minister Premadasa and Ministers Gamini Jayasuriya, Montague Jayawickrema and E. L. B. Hurulle. President J. R. Jayewardene escaped injury.

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Source URL: The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

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