Fri, Oct 20, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Two Sri Lankan soldiers killed by mine explosion


A mine blast killed two government soldiers in northern Sri Lanka yesterday, the military said, a day after a rebel suicide ambush at a naval base killed a sailor and left two missing.

The two troops were part of a foot patrol near the northern town of Vavuniya, 210km north of the capital, Colombo, said Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe, a military spokesman.

Soldiers and Tamil Tiger insurgents exchanged artillery fire overnight in Nagarkovil of northern Jaffna peninsula, leaving one soldier wounded, a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, in line with policy.

The surge in violence came as US envoy Richard Boucher arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday for talks with government and rebel leaders. Boucher -- the US assistant secretary of state for central and South Asian affairs -- was on a two-day visit, attempting to ensure the two sides remain committed to peace talks scheduled for later this month.

Separately yesterday, the army defused a roadside bomb hidden in garbage pile on the side of a main road on the outskirts of Colombo, said a police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said police suspect that Tamil Tigers planted the bomb, but said no arrests had been made. It was not immediately known who the target was.

On Wednesday, suspected Tamil Tiger rebels posing as fishermen blew up two boats in a suicide attack on a naval base in the resort town of Galle, killing at least one sailor. Two others were missing and 12 were wounded.

The pro-rebel TamilNet Web site said 15 rebels took part in Wednesday's raid. Military officials could not confirm the number of insurgents involved, but it said all were killed.

It was the first such attack on the southern coast, which is popular with tourists, but it was the second rebel suicide attack on the navy this week.

On Monday, a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-packed truck into a military bus convoy, killing at least 95 sailors and wounding more than 150 -- the deadliest insurgent attack since a 2002 ceasefire temporarily halted the civil war.

Despite the soaring violence, both sides say they remain committed to peace talks scheduled for Oct. 28 in Switzerland. Diplomatic efforts have been stepped up ahead of the talks. Norwegian envoy Jon Hanssen-Bauer is in Sri Lanka and is scheduled to meet government and rebel officials.

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