US, Italian ambassadors wounded in Sri Lanka LTTE attacks

Feb 27, 2007 (AFP) – The ambassadors of the United States and Italy were wounded Tuesday in an artillery attack by suspected Tamil rebels in eastern Sri Lanka, Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told AFP. Samarasinghe, who was accompanying a group of Colombo-based diplomats to the district of Batticaloa, said the attack came shortly after one of two helicopters landed at a public playground.

“The ambassadors are slightly hurt,” Samarasinghe said by telephone. “I was not injured. A shell fell a short distance away from where we were.”

A doctor at the main hospital in Batticaloa, 303 kilometres (187 miles) east of here by road, said the Italian ambassador had suffered head injuries.

“The diplomat has a foreign object embedded inside his head,” hospital director Muruganathan Moorthy told AFP.

“We had a total of 11 people admitted after the shell attack.”

Four policemen, three Special Task Force commandos, two airforce men and a child were among the wounded.

Samarasinghe was taking the Colombo-based ambassadors to Batticaloa where security forces last month captured a key stronghold of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

President Mahinda Rajapakse visited the ar