COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — A bomb exploded at rush hour today near a major bus stop in a largely Sinhalese neighborhood, killing at least 32 people and injuring 105, police said.
There were piles of bodies on sidewalks, and seven ambulances were seen carrying away victims. Rescue workers said that many of the wounded were in serious condition and that the death toll could reach 70.
The bomb went off at about 5:40 p.m. in the Maradana neighborhood, a busy shopping district about a mile east of the capital's downtown area.
The explosion shattered windows in buildings along the street. At least 25 cars and buses were damaged, and one bus was destroyed by fire.
Police Constable Wimal Fernando said he was leaving the nearby police station when the bomb went off.
"The blast of the bomb almost threw me back inside," he said. "I was shocked when I realized there were bodies all over and vehicles were on fire."
Chandrasiri Rupasinghe, 31, was walking to meet a friend at the bus station when he heard the blast. He saw smoke rising from cars and began pulling the injured away from the flames.
"Some of them were on fire," he said of the victims.
The bomb exploded two miles from the room where President Junius Jayewardene was discussing two controversial bills aimed at ending a 4-year-old Tamil rebellion.
State-run television said intelligence sources suspected that an outlawed Marxist group, the People's Liberation Front, was responsible for the blast.
The group, which includes nationalist members of the majority Sinhalese community, opposes the terms of Jayewardene's July 29 pact with India to end the revolt by the island's Tamil minority.
A police spokesman said the bomb, estimated at about 100 pounds of explosives, went off despite heavy security after People's Liberation threats to disrupt government activities.