Mine blast kills soldier in Sri Lanka

June 12, 2006 (AFP) – One soldier was killed and five civilians wounded Monday in two mine blasts in northern Sri Lanka as troops exchanged fire with Tamil Tiger rebels, the military said. More than 60,000 people have been killed in Sri Lanka’s drawn out Tamil separatist conflict in the past three decades. The soldier was killed in the northwest district of Vavuniya while he was on a routine patrol, a military official said, adding that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were suspected of being behind the attack.

In a second mine attack in the same district, five civilians were wounded, the official said.

The army also said that the Tigers had exchanged fire with security forces in several areas of the troubled northeast during the past 24 hours.

The latest blasts follow a failed bid by diplomats last week to arrange a meeting between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan government to discuss the safety of Scandinavians monitoring a four-year ceasefire.

The LTTE in a statement Monday said government forces had infiltrated areas held by them and carried out 11 mine attacks in the past six days that killed 21 people and wounded 20.

The military denied carrying out attac