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Last updated: 06 April, 2008 - Published 12:54 GMT
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Tributes paid to Karu and Alwis
Marathon Karu appearing in a poster (photo Elmo Fernando)
Marathon Karu and Lakshman de Alwis were among the dead
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has condemned the bombing of a marathon in Sri Lanka.

KA Karunaratne, Sri Lanka's only Olympic marathon runner and the national athletic coach, Lakshman de Alwis, are among those killed in Sundays' suicide bomb blast in Weliweriya, Gampaha.

"The IAAF is saddened to receive the tragic news of the bomb blast today at the start of a marathon in Sri Lanka which among others killed a government minister, a former Olympian and a national coach," the IAAF said.

IAAF condemns

Chief Government Whip, Highways Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopullai and 13 others were killed in the blast that occurred as the minister signalled to start the marathon.

The event was organised to mark the Sinhala and Hindu New Year.

IAAF logo
"Targeting innocently involved in a sporting event is reprehensible"

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has accused the Tamil Tigers of targeting a leading member of the Catholic community.

"I wish to reiterate that this dastardly act will not weaken our resolve to eradicate terrorism from our midst, and bring peace, harmony and democracy to all our people," a statement issued by the President said.

Sri Lanka's first woman Olympian, Thilaka Jinadasa, paid tribute to both sprots personalities.

Thilaka Jinadasa's tribute

"I still remember how myself and Karunarathne trained under Yogananda Wijesundara for over 10 years since 1982," Ms. Jinadasa, Sri Lanka's junior netball coach, told BBC Sandeshaya.

KA Karunaratne competed in the 1992 Olympic marathon and the 1993 World Championships.

Scene of the blast (photo Elmo Fernando)
At least 14, including the bomber, were killed in the suicide blast

He won gold in the marathon and 10,000 metres at the 1991 South Asian Games, defending his marathon title in 1993.

Both Mr. Karunarathne and Mr. De Alwis were committed to help younger generations, according to Ms. Jinadasa.

"Mr. Alwis was our coach when I competed in Olympics in 1988. Sri Lanka has lost a very knowledgeable and talented coach," Thilaka Jinadasa added.

Condemning the attack, IAAF President ILamine Diack said: "To target those innocently involved in a sporting event is reprehensible. Our thoughts and prayers go to the bereaved families.".

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