Suspected Tamil rebels detonate mines near Sri Lanka capital; two policemen in north
Tue June 6, 2006 07:44 EDT .
DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil rebels triggered two anti-personnel mines outside Sri Lanka - 's capital early Tuesday, wounding two people, the military said, in the first such attacks near Colombo since the country's 2002 cease-fire. Later Tuesday, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels triggered another mine in northern Sri Lanka - , killing two policemen and wounding two others, military said.
``A police vehicle got caught to an explosion near Vavuniya,'' military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.
He blamed the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the blast.
Vavuniya is located 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of the capital, Colombo and is the northernmost government-held garrison town before rebel-held territory.
Separately, police said the bodies of four Tamil civilians with gunshot wounds were found in the northeast overnight.
The violence come as government and rebel officials prepared to meet in the Norwegian capital Thursday and Friday to review the cease-fire, which appears increasingly tenuous due to violence that has killed at least 375 people since the beginning of April.
The mine blasts took place near a navy camp on a side road of a highway connecting Colombo with the country's only international airport. It damaged a state-run bus and wounded the driver and conductor, navy spokesman D.K.P Dassanayake said. The bus had just come out of its depot and had no passengers.
``Their main target was our buses that take navy personnel to duty, but apparently they triggered the mines prematurely,'' Dassanayake said.
Dassanayake blamed the attack on Tamil Tiger rebels.
Anti-personnel mines, which fire hundreds of steel balls propelled by plastic explosives and can be detonated by remote control, are a preferred weapon of the insurgents. Until now, they have been used only in the country's northeast, where the Tigers control parts of the countryside.
The only attacks in or around Colombo attributed to the rebels since the 2002 cease-fire have been suicide bombings.
In April, a female rebel bomber targeted the country's top general at a military base in Colombo. Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka escaped the attack with abdominal and chest wounds, but at least 12 others died in the blast, prompting the government to retaliate against Tamil rebel bases and pushing Sri Lanka - closer to a resumption of full-scale civil war.
In July of 2004, a suicide bomber targeted Douglas Devananda, a government minister and a moderate Tamil leader who opposes the rebels. The bomber could not reach Devananda and detonated explosives that killed four people.
Separately, authorities had no immediate motive for the deaths or the four Tamil civilians whose bodies were found in the northeast, said police officer P. Tennakoon.
Two of the bodies were found in Kayts islet, northern Jaffna, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the capital, Colombo, while the other two were found in Trincomalee district, 215 kilometers (133 miles), northeast of Colombo, he said.
The Oslo talks are aimed at reviewing the Norway-brokered cease-fire and ensure safety of European monitors who oversee the agreement. The monitors suspended sea patrols last month after the rebels attacked a government navy convoy that had a truce monitor on board.
Sixty members from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland have monitored Sri Lanka - 's cease-fire.
Tamil Tigers began fighting the government in 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, accusing the majority Sinhalese of discrimination.
Associated Press Writer, Bharatha Mallawarachi contributed to this report.
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Published: Tue Jun 6 08:40:18 EDT 2006