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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Suspected Sri Lanka Tiger blasts kill 1, injure 12

COLOMBO, July 18 (Reuters) - Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels killed a civilian and wounded 12 others in mine attacks in Sri Lanka's north and east on Tuesday in continuing sporadic violence, officials said.

A claymore fragmentation mine exploded in the army-held Jaffna peninsula, at the island's northern tip, killing a civilian as an army patrol scoured roadside scrub for boobytraps and explosives. Six people were wounded.

In a separate incident, six Tamils were wounded in a blast in the eastern district of Trincomalee which the military again blamed on the rebels.

Near daily attacks and clashes between the military and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have killed more than 700 people so far this year, and are straining a 2002 ceasefire to breaking point.

"A Claymore targeted the army in Jaffna, killing one civilian and injuring 6 people including four soldiers," said a military spokesman. "Obviously it's the work of the LTTE."

A police constable was shot and injured in another incident in the eastern district of Ampara before dawn.

In the capital, Colombo, police evacuated the island's premier shopping mall a stone's throw from President Mahinda Rajapakse's official residence after a bomb scare in the parking lot which turned out to be a false alarm.

That it in turn came after a bomb scare aboard an airliner bound for Doha on Sunday.

The Tigers meanwhile accused the military of helping armed groups to abduct Tamil civilians in the north and east, citing the cases of two people abducted by men in a white van at the weekend.

"White van abductions and killings ... are now resurfacing," the Tigers said on their official Website www.ltteps.org.

"The Sri Lankan army's complicity has been further revealed in past incidents in which residents have witnessed the army standing guard outside a home when gunmen in white vans attack civilians."

Many diplomats and analysts fear the rash of violence in recent months could escalate and spiral into a new chapter in Sri Lanka's two-decade civil war, which killed more than 65,000 people since 1983 before the ceasefire four years ago.

The Tigers have pulled out of peace talks indefinitely and the government has rejected outright their demands for a separate homeland for ethnic Tamils in the north and east, and many fear a permanent peace deal is likely years off.
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