Three members of the Sri Lankan security forces died yesterday in a suspected rebel mine attack, a military official said, as international concern mounted over growing violence which is undermining a four-year-old ceasefire.
Two soldiers and a policeman died when suspected Tamil Tiger rebels exploded a Claymore mine as their vehicle passed in Vavuniya district, 260km north of the capital Colombo, the official said.
More than 500 people have been killed since violence began escalating in December. The 191 fatalities recorded by Scandinavian truce monitors in April made it the bloodiest month.
Troops, police, Tamil Tigers and civilians have died in explosions, shootings, naval engagements and other action despite a Norwegian-brokered truce in force since February 2002.
Oslo's top peace envoy Erik Solheim is expected in Colombo on Friday to try and salvage the faltering peace process.
Solheim, Norway's International Development Minister, is due to hold talks with Sri Lankan leaders before a meeting of international aid donors in Tokyo on May 30.
The donors are to review their involvement in Sri Lanka in the face of a lack of progress in the peace process. More than 60,000 people have died in the conflict since 1972.
UN high commissioner for human rights Louise Arbour said in Geneva on Tuesday that she was deeply concerned about the mounting violence in Sri Lanka, where the Tamil Tigers are fighting for a minority Tamil homeland.
"These violations are not only ceasefire violations, but also serious breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law," said Arbour.
Arbour said the government and the Tamil Tigers had an obligation to observe human rights.