Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels exploded anti-personnel mines twice in eastern Sri Lanka on Thursday, killing four people and injuring 25 others, the Defense Ministry said. Twenty soldiers and police and one civilian were injured when suspected Tigers triggered a mine against their truck in Batticaloa, 220 kilometers (135 miles) east of capital, Colombo, the military media unit said. Three police died in the attack, as did one civilian.
Separately, three sailors and a police officer were injured in a suspected rebel mine attack in the eastern town of Trincomalee, 230 kilometers (140 miles) northeast of Colombo, navy spokesman Cmdr. D.K.P Dassanayake said. Both Trincomalee and Batticaloa fall within the rebels' envisaged homeland for Sri Lanka's 3.2 million ethnic Tamil minority.
The attacks came as the Sri Lankan Parliament on Thursday extended a state of emergency as continuing separatist violence threatened to plunge the ethnically riven tropical island back into civil war. Sri Lanka has renewed the state of emergency, which gives police and the military special powers, every month since the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in August.
Trincomalee, which serves as a major base for the Sri Lankan navy, has been hit hard by violence blamed on the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who run a de facto state in parts of the north and east of the island. They routinely deny any role in such attacks. Batticaloa has also been a hotbed of violence, most of it blamed on the Tigers. The area has also seen several tit-for-tat killings between the Tigers and a breakaway faction, reports the AP. N.U.
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