Mass arrests after Sri Lanka blasts kill 12

COLOMBO, Feb 1, 2007 (AFP) – Tamil Tiger rebels set off a roadside bomb in Sri Lanka’s troubled north Thursday, killing a soldier as police carried out mass arrests after a similar blast killed 11 people, officials said. The latest Claymore mine attack was in the district of Vavuniya where soldiers were on routine operations sweeping for mines along the main road, a local police official said.

In the island’s restive east, police arrested 58 people, including undergraduates and teachers, following Wednesday’s mine attack which killed 11 people — six policemen, four soldiers and a civilian.

Sixteen others were wounded in Wednesday’s blast blamed on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killings.

Nearly two weeks ago, government troops captured the main Tiger bastion of Vakarai town in Batticaloa district, where the guerrillas maintained a de facto separate state for over a decade. .