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Lanka's claymore mine blast kills four soldiers, wounds 7 more

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Colombo, Apr 17 (UNI) At least four Sri Lankan soldiers were killed and seven more wounded when the their truck was hit by a claymore mine explosion this morning in the Northern Vavuniya district.

''The army truck was traveling at Vepankulam when it got caught to the LTTE claymore mine attack. Four soldiers were killed on the spot while seven more sustained serious injuries,'' a military spokesman said, adding that the injured soldiers have been rushed to the nearby Vavuniya base hospital.

Nearly 50 soldiers have been killed in a series of claymore explosions by the suspected LTTE cadres during past one week with the government and the LTTE locking horns with regard to the preparations to attend the direct talks in Geneva, rescheduled for April 24.

The LTTE also has accused the government of using its ''deep penetration unit'' to plant claymores in the rebels-held areas of Mannar and Vavuniya in the past few days.

The incident has occurred hours after the LTTE warned that the organisation would not attend the proposed direct talks in Geneva rescheduled to be held on April 24 and 25, ''until the hurdles'' in relation to the traveling of its eastern commanders to Wanni for meeting with the rebel leadership ''are removed''.

The LTTE's political wing head, S P Thamilselvan in a strong letter to the Norwegian Ambassador to Colombo, Hans Brattskar has stated that the organisation was 'saddened" that by blocking its air and sea travel arrangements it was placed in the difficult situation where its negotiating team was unable to attend the Geneva talks.

''We therefore, hereby wish to inform you with sadness that until the hurdles in front of us to attend Geneva talks are removed and a more conducive environment created, our Geneva team is unable to come to the Geneva talks,'' the Tamilnet website has quoted Mr Thamilselvan as stating in the letter.

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