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Grenade on Sri Lanka bus injures 19; military rules out attack

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A grenade exploded on a bus in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, injuring 19 people, including 12 military personnel, the prime minister said, but the military ruled out the possibility that the incident was an attack.

Since the end of Sri Lanka’s nearly three-decade civil war in 2009 there have been no targeted attacks on the military.

“It has been revealed from the initial investigations that it was a grenade in a bag of a passenger which exploded,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament

“Further investigations are going on.”

He gave no details about the identity of the passenger nor did he say if the blast was accidental.

But the military spokesman, Sumith Atapattu, said the blast was not the result of an attack.

“We rule out any terrorist attack. One thing we can say is that somebody has carried a grenade or similar item illegally,” he said, adding that police were investigating.

Seven army and five air force personnel, along with seven civilians, were injured in a fire following the blast on the bus, operating between the Jaffna peninsula in the north of the island to the central town of Diyathalawa, he said.

Jaffna was part of the northern heartland of ethnic minority Tamils, who battled the government for a separate state for 26 years until their defeat May 2009.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Sri Lanka bus explosion injures 19, including 12 military personnel-spokesman

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A grenade exploded on a bus in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, injuring 19 people, including 12 military personnel, the prime minister said, but the military ruled out the possibility that the incident was an attack.

Since the end of Sri Lanka’s nearly three-decade civil war in 2009 there have been no targeted attacks on the military.

“It has been revealed from the initial investigations that it was a grenade in a bag of a passenger which exploded,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament

“Further investigations are going on.”

He gave no details about the identity of the passenger nor did he say if the blast was accidental.

But the military spokesman, Sumith Atapattu, said the blast was not the result of an attack.

“We rule out any terrorist attack. One thing we can say is that somebody has carried a grenade or similar item illegally,” he said, adding that police were investigating.

Seven army and five air force personnel, along with seven civilians, were injured in a fire following the blast on the bus, operating between the Jaffna peninsula in the north of the island to the central town of Diyathalawa, he said.

Jaffna was part of the northern heartland of ethnic minority Tamils, who battled the government for a separate state for 26 years until their defeat May 2009.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Sri Lanka bus explosion injures 19, including 12 military personnel-spokesman

COLOMBO (Reuters) – A grenade exploded on a bus in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, injuring 19 people, including 12 military personnel, the prime minister said, but the military ruled out the possibility that the incident was an attack.

Since the end of Sri Lanka’s nearly three-decade civil war in 2009 there have been no targeted attacks on the military.

“It has been revealed from the initial investigations that it was a grenade in a bag of a passenger which exploded,” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament

“Further investigations are going on.”

He gave no details about the identity of the passenger nor did he say if the blast was accidental.

But the military spokesman, Sumith Atapattu, said the blast was not the result of an attack.

“We rule out any terrorist attack. One thing we can say is that somebody has carried a grenade or similar item illegally,” he said, adding that police were investigating.

Seven army and five air force personnel, along with seven civilians, were injured in a fire following the blast on the bus, operating between the Jaffna peninsula in the north of the island to the central town of Diyathalawa, he said.

Jaffna was part of the northern heartland of ethnic minority Tamils, who battled the government for a separate state for 26 years until their defeat May 2009.

Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

References

  1. ^ The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. (thomsonreuters.com)
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Former HPD assistant chief named city's homeland security director …

  • George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

  • Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

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Image 1 of 3 | George Buenik

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

George T. Buenik is introduced as the new director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston. 

Image 2 of 3 | George Buenik

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

Houston mayor Sylvester Turner hugs George T. Buenik after introducing him as the new director of Public Safety and Homeland Security at City Hall Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, in Houston.

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Former HPD assistant chief named city’s homeland security director

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A former high-ranking Houston Police Department veteran will lead the mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, overseeing emergency management and coordinating among the agencies for high-profile events such as hurricanes and Super Bowls, Mayor Sylvester Turner said Tuesday.

George T. Buenik, 58, takes over for the retiring director Dennis Storemski, who has held the position since 2005.

“Houston needs someone with strong leadership skills and extensive experience in emergency preparedness and crisis management to lead the Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security, especially after Hurricane Harvey and other major events in the city,” Turner said. “I am confident George Buenik has the strategic vision to take charge before, during and after the next crisis.”

Buenik spent 34 years with the Houston Police Department and last year served as the chairman of the 2017 Houston Super Bowl Public Safety Committee. He left HPD last year in a wave of retirements.

“My number one priority will be to keep this city safe and secure,” Buenik said. “I will work closely with Mayor Turner and other city directors to ensure we are properly prepared to respond to and mitigate all disasters and major emergencies.”

In his new role, Buenik said he wants to ensure the city has adequate plans to deal with active shooters and the proper preparation for major disasters.

“Nationally right now, there’s a lot of media coverage on active shooters, and so I think police agencies and cities around the country have to come up with a plan to combat active shooters,” he said. “You react as you’re trained.”

Buenik’s new responsibilities will include overseeing the Office of Emergency Management, Houston’s Emergency Communications Center, the city’s homeland security activities and Houston Crackdown, a city program that coordinates volunteer projects in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment, and law enforcement.

Former colleagues praised Buenik’s years of leadership at HPD and his experience planning homeland security preparations for large-scale events like the Final Four, the Chevron Houston Marathon or last year’s Super Bowl LI.

“He is a strategic and critical thinker and he was one of the best emergency planners in the Houston Police Department, especially when it comes to large-scale events,” said former Chief Charles A. McClelland.

Houston Police Officers Union President Joseph Gamaldi praised the choice.

“Everyone’s been generally supportive,” Gamaldi said. “We think he’ll do a good job in that position.”

Fire Chief Samuel Peña said Buenik’s experience with other city agencies would be an asset in his new job, where he will need to network, coordinate public safety needs and focus on planning, preparation, mitigation and response to emergencies.

“He understand’s the city’s needs,” Peña said.

Before retiring from HPD in 2017, Buenik rose to the level of executive assistant chief, overseeing homeland security, criminal intelligence, the joint terrorism task force, dignitary executive protection and other responsibilities.

He replaces Storemski, who served 38 years as a Houston police officer before taking over the homeland security post in 2005. Turner said the outgoing director had a “tremendous impact” on Houston.

For his part, Storemski said he had been blessed to work in HPD and then in the post in the mayor’s office.

“How many people can say that they spent a long career being paid for something you love doing? I can,” he told City Council when he announced last month that he was retiring. “How many people can say they spent their entire career and have no regrets?”

St. John Barned-Smith[1] covers public safety and major breaking news for the Houston Chronicle. Follow him on Twitter[2] and Facebook[3]. Send tips to [email protected][4].

References

  1. ^ St. John Barned-Smith (www.houstonchronicle.com)
  2. ^ Twitter (www.twitter.com)
  3. ^ Facebook (www.facebook.com)
  4. ^ [email protected] (www.chron.com)