Blasts Blamed on Sri Lanka Rebels Kill 8
April 16, 2006.
Associated Press Writer
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels detonated mines near two military vehicles in northeastern Sri Lanka, killing eight people in separate attacks, officials said Sunday.
Late Saturday, suspected rebels detonated a mine near a jeep carrying air force personnel as it returning to its camp, said Capt. Ajantha Perera, an air force spokesman.
``There were three people in the jeep and all have died,'' said Perera, who blamed the rebels for the attack.
In the first attack, a similar mine, which can be detonated by remote control, exploded as a bus carrying troops approached the town of Vavuniya earlier on Saturday, said Gamini Silva, the deputy inspector general of police. He also blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam rebel group for the blast.
On Sunday, a mine blast critically wounded two Sri Lankan soldiers in the northern Jaffna Peninsula, the military said, blaming the rebels.
The attacks came amid some of the worst violence in Sri Lanka since Norway brokered a February 2002 cease-fire between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels.
In a separate attack Saturday, two gunmen killed a Tamil civilian in Jaffna, a police officer said on condition of anonymity, because he was not authorized to speak publicly. The motive behind the killing was not clear, and no other details were immediately available.
The rebels have blamed government-backed paramilitary groups for recent bloodshed, which has raised fears of a return to civil war. The government denies that it backs any paramilitary groups.
Also Saturday, Tamil Tiger rebel commanders canceled a trip to an internal meeting that they had insisted take place before upcoming peace talks in Switzerland, according to a rebel statement.
The group said members had felt threatened by a navy ship that approached a ferry the rebels had been boarding.
Helen Olafsdottir, a spokeswoman for the European mission observing the 2002 truce, said there was no risk ``as our monitors were aboard the naval vessel to ensure that nothing happens.''
The government said the guerrillas were told in advance that ships would be present to ensure their safety.
It was not clear if the rebels still plan to attend the April 24-25 peace talks in Geneva.
The Tamil Tigers want to carve out a separate homeland for the country's 3.2 million minority ethnic Tamils, claiming discrimination by the majority Sinhalese.
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Published: Sun Apr 16 01:45:14 EDT 2006