Five killed as British minister tours Sri Lanka

Feb 14, 2007 (AFP) – Three rebels, a policeman and a security guard were killed in Sri Lanka’s restive eastern province Wednesday as Britain’s junior foreign minister Kim Howells toured projects in the area funded by the former colonial power. Security forces killed three Tiger rebels during clashes across eastern Amapara district which also claimed the lives of a police commando and a village security guard, police said.

In the same district, but well away from the fighting, Howells visited tsunami relief projects funded by Britain as well as refugee camps housing people displaced during the recent fighting.

“The minister also met with officials from UNICEF and Save the Children UK to discuss the effects of the conflict on children,” High Commission (embassy) spokesperson John Culley said.

Howells went to an exhibition where Tamil, Sinhalese and Muslim children displayed their feelings about the conflict through art, Culley said.

Residents in the area said security was tight following a mine explosion which injured 12 people on Tuesday night.

A van carrying 15 civilians hit a Claymore mine in Ampara late Tuesday, injuring 12 passengers, the defence ministry said.

Meanwhile, security forces seized arms and ammuni