MADRAS, India, March 16 (Reuter): South Indian police today questioned two men in connection with a railway bridge bombing that sent a speeding express train into a dry river bed, killing at least 32 people.
Police in Tamil Nadu, India’s southernmost State, told Reuters the two unidentified men were picked up in a village near the Marudaiyar Bridge on which two remote-controlled bombs were detonated early yesterday.
They also said a camp near the bridge housing Tamil guerrillas fighting for “Eelam”, a separate homeland in Sri Lanka, was cordoned off and searched for incriminating material.
More than 1,200 people were travelling on the rock fort express heading from Tiruchirapalli to Madras when the explosions sent the engine and eight coaches plummeting off the bridge.
Police said the death toll was at least 32 but unofficial sources said as many as 100)people could have been killed. At least 130 people were admitted to hospitals and others treated at the scene, they said.
Other coaches of the 17car express were still balanced on the twisted rails, the remains of the 200 m (650 feet) bridge sagging beneath them.
“There is no sound from the wreckage”, a police official said, “we don’t expect to find anyone else alive”.
Eyewitnesses said five handwritten/posters supporting Tamil militants fighting for a separate homeland in Sri Lanka’ were found posted on the bridge.
Maoras, Capital of Tamil Nadu (the “Tamil Nation”), is headquarters to the Sri Lankan Tamil guerrilla organizations.
Police also found a battery and long lengths of wire indicating use of a remotely controlled detonator, sniffer dogs led police front he site where the bombs were set off to the nearby village where the two men were detained, police said.
Police cordoned off and searched the camp in nearby Color on of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization which has been virtually defunct since a crackdown on the militant groups by the State government last November.
But authorities gave o details and the posters carried the name of the “Tamil Nadu Liberation Organization,” a hitherto unknown group.
One poster read: “If India could recognize Namibia and Palestine and if she could sever ties with South Africa, why is she fighting shy of giving recognition to Tamil Eelam”.
Another said: “There should be no more arrests of Tamil militants on their own soil”.
Article extracted from this publication >> March 20, 1987