Mine blast kills two navy sailors in Sri Lanka

Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels detonated an anti-personnel mine in northern Sri Lanka on Saturday, killing two navy sailors and injuring one other, a navy spokesman said. "It was a Claymore explosion targeting three sailors who were on patrol. Two died and one injured," navy spokesman Cmdr. D.K.P Dassanayake said. "We will say it is the LTTE, no other organization is capable of carrying out such attacks," he added, referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The attack happened in Kayts islet in northern Jaffna, 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the capital, Colombo. It brings to 72 the number of government troops killed in attacks blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels since Dec.4, endangering a nearly four-year-old truce.

Tamil Tiger rebels have continuously denied any responsibility in the attacks but European truce monitors overseeing the 2002 Norway-brokered truce on Friday raised the possibility of the Tigers' involvement. "It is safe to say that LTTE involvement cannot be ruled out and we find the LTTE's indifference to these attacks worrying," the monitors said in a written statement.

Hours after that statement, attackers hurled a grenade into a compound used by the truce monitors, damaging three vehicles, monitors and police said Saturday. No injuries were reported and no one immediately claimed responsibility.

"There was a hand grenade lobbed at our office around midnight and it landed in a parking area and damaged three cars," said Helen Olafsdottir, spokeswoman for Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

Two monitors were in a nearby building at the time of the blast, and it was not known who was behind the attack, she said. The mission's 60 monitors come from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. They are overseeing the 2002 cease-fire between the government and the LTTE, who had fought since 1983 for a separate homeland for Sri Lanka's ethnic minority Tamils,claiming discrimination by the Sinhalese majority. The Tamil Tigers could did not immediately comment on the attack or the monitors' remarks but pro-rebel Web sites reported the incident.

Peace talks started after the truce but stalled over postwar power-sharing disagreements. On Thursday, nine soldiers were killed in an attack on a convoy in the country's north. The monitors called the killings "yet another blow to the cease-fire agreement," and said if the violence continues, "the cease-fire agreement will be over." Sri Lanka's 19-year civil war claimed 65,000 lives and displaced 1.6 million people, reports the AP. N.U.

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