Incident Summary:

02/21/2005: A grenade explosion and gun fire at a courthouse in Embilipitiya, Sri Lanka, resulted in the escape of at least 52 inmates (32 of whom returned voluntarily, and 16 of the escapees were hardened criminals) as well as the death of 3 individuals (the chief jailer, a man, and a woman) and the injury of at least 38 others including prison guards and civilians attending the court proceedings. The attack was believed to be aimed at setting free several notorious gangsters who were in the court building at the time. The extent of property damage is unknown. The incident occurred 75 kilometers away from where the former US Presidents were inspecting tsunami damage. It is believed that the grenade was hurled by a suspect awaiting trial at the court.



Sri Lanka

South Asia

region/u.s. state:



Location Details:
Embilipitiya town is in Ratnapura district; the attack was on the Courthouse located there.

Attack Information
Type of Attack (more) Armed Assault
Type of Attack (more) Bombing/Explosion
Successful Attack? (more) Yes
Target Information (more)
Target Type: Government (General)
Name of Entity Sri Lankan Judicial System
Specific Description Court house at Embilipitiya
Nationality of Target Sri Lanka
Target Type: Police
Name of Entity Sri Lankan Prison guards
Specific Description prison guards
Nationality of Target Sri Lanka
Target Type: Private Citizens & Property
Name of Entity Sri Lankan civilians
Specific Description Civilians attending court proceedings
Nationality of Target Sri Lanka
Additional Information
Hostages No
Ransom No
Property Damage Unknown
Extent of Property Damage Unknown
Value of Property Damage Unknown
Weapon Information
Type Sub-type
Explosives Grenade
Firearms Unknown Gun Type
Additional Information
Suicide Attack?No
Part of Multiple Incident?No
Criterion 1 (more) Yes
Criterion 2 (more) Yes
Criterion 3 (more) Yes
Doubt Terrorism Proper (more) Yes
Alternate Designation (more) Other Crime Type
Perpetrator Group Information
Group Name Claimed Responsibility
Unknown (suspected) No
Perpetrator Statistics
Number of Perpetrators Unknown
Number of Captured Perpetrators 0
Casualty Information
Total Number of Casualties 3 Fatalities / 38 Injured
Total Number of Fatalities 3
Number of U.S. Fatalities 0
Number of Perpetrator Fatalities 0
Total Number of Injured 38
Number of U.S. Injured 0
Number of Perpetrators Injured 0
"Over 20 prisoners escape in Sri Lankan court explosion," Xinhua News Agency, February 21, 2005.
"Three killed in Lanka blast as Bush Sr - Clinton tour," The Press Trust of India, February 21, 2005.
"Death toll from courtroom blast in southern Sri Lanka rises to three," Associated Press, February 22, 2005.