New blast pushes death toll to 21 and dims Sri Lanka peace hopes

Apr. 12 (AFP) – International concern mounted for Sri Lanka’s peace efforts Wednesday as the third landmine attack in as many days raised the death toll to 21 and dimmed prospects for truce talks due next week. Two policemen died in a suspected Tamil Tiger landmine blast in the restive northeast on Wednesday as peace brokers and Scandinavian truce monitors kept up a bid to save the faltering ceasefire.

Police said two constables were killed on the spot while two others were injured after their truck was ambushed with a Claymore mine, a surface-mounted explosive device which scatters pellets like bullets.

The policemen were on their way to Trincomalee to buy provisions for colleagues stationed further north of the main city in the coastal district, police said.

“It is the Tigers who have carried out the attack,” a Trincomalee police official said, referring to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“Two men were killed on the spot and the other two in the truck were injured,” he said. “They have been taken to the Trincomalee hospital.”

The attack came as the United States, which banned the LTTE in October 1997, condemned the recent attacks on government forces and urged the rebels to ke