Pakistan envoy escapes Sri Lanka blast, ‘orphanage’ attack kills 61

COLOMBO, Aug 14, 2006 (AFP) – Pakistan’s top envoy escaped a mine blast which killed seven people here Monday as Tamil Tiger rebels accused Sri Lanka of bombing an orphanage and killing 61 amid ferocious battles elsewhere.

The intense fighting cut off Jaffna, where residents were fleeing the violence and were displaced within the peninsula, one official said, adding that there was increased concern for the safety of civilians there.

Updated

The unprecedented Claymore mine attack on a diplomat in Colombo came as troops and Tigers were locked in fierce face-to-face combat in the island’s northern peninsula of Jaffna.

Ambassador Bashir Wali Mohmand, a retired Pakistan intelligence officer, narrowly escaped although his car took shrapnel from the mine mounted on a parked three-wheeler taxi, police said.

“The ambassador is safe. He is unhurt,” said Pakistan high commission (embassy) spokeswoman Suriya Jamal.

Four Sri Lankan army commandos guarding the diplomat were killed instantly as their white Land Rover Defender took the full force of the blast. Three bystanders also died, police and hospital officials said.

The authorities stepped up security for the ambassador with