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New Sri Lanka attack wounds 5, confusion over talks

Written by: Staff

COLOMBO, Apr 14 (Reuters) Five people, including two Sri Lankan soldiers, were wounded today in a Tamil Tiger mine attack, the army said, a day after the rebels agreed to go to Switzerland for talks with the government.

More than 40 people have died in the last week in the bloodiest spell of violence since a 2002 truce, leading many to fear talks scheduled for next week would be cancelled and that the island's two decade civil war would resume.

Yesterday, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said they would go to Geneva for talks but a few days late.

The government still plans to hold talks on April 19-21 as earlier scheduled, and diplomats say the island's peace process is in increasing disarray.

The army said the latest incident occurred just north of the northeastern port town of Trincomalee, centre of recent violence, with suspected rebels using claymore fragmentation mine to attack a vehicle carrying supplies for the military.

''Two soldiers are injured and a civilian driver,'' army spokesman Brigadier Prasad Samarasinghe said. ''Two civilian passers by were injured. It was the LTTE. No-one else could be setting off claymores.'' The LTTE, whose struggle for an ethnic Tamil homeland in the island's north and east has killed more than 64,000 people on both sides, deny recent attacks but few diplomats or analysts believe them.

Sri Lanka's key donors Japan, the European Union, the United States and Norway expressed concerns over recent violence today and urged both sides to stick to a plan to meet in Geneva next week as scheduled.

The recent attacks were the second time the island has been pushed to the brink of war this year. Two months of violence in December and January ended when the rebels agreed to come to the first direct talks with the government since 2003.


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