Bomb blasts rock Sri Lanka navy base amid peace moves

COLOMBO, June 6, 2006 (AFP) – Suspected Tamil rebels exploded bombs outside a naval base near Sri Lanka’s capital Tuesday, wounding two people while three others were killed in a similar attack elsewhere, the military said. More than 60,000 people have been killed in the island’s separatist conflict since 1972 and four previous peace bids have ended in failure. Two Claymore mines appeared to have been intended for a coach transporting navy officers to a domestic airport to catch a flight to the northern peninsula of Jaffna, but hit a civilian bus instead and wounded the driver and conductor.

“The officers were to travel in a red bus. The civilian bus was also red and similar but not identical,” a naval source said. “The bombers may not have been able to make out the difference in the dark.”

In a similar Claymore attack in the island’s northern peninsula of Jaffna two policemen and a civilian were killed Tuesday while three people, including a four-year-old child escaped with injuries, local military officials said.

The pre-dawn simultaneous explosions outside the Welisara navy base near Colombo hit the civilian bus as it left its garage and moved to pick up passengers, navy spokesman P. D. K. Dassanayake said.