Bomb scare in Colombo as Oslo mounts peace salvage bid

May 25, 2006 (AFP) – Deadly mine attacks and a bomb scare in Sri Lanka’s capital Thursday brought home the challenge faced by a Norwegian envoy who was set to arrive to salvage peace talks and a tattered ceasefire. Peace broker Oslo’s top envoy Erik Solheim, due to arrive Friday for talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse, cautioned against high expectations from his latest mission, against the backdrop of deteriorating security.

“The situation in Sri Lanka is complicated, and it is important not to have unrealistic expectations of the meetings,” Solheim said in a statement sent ahead of his visit.

The 39-storey World Trade Centre (WTC) complex in the heart of Colombo blocked all vehicles from entering, fearing a repeat of a 1997 truck bomb attack there which killed 20 people and wounded 100.

“Following information regarding security, we have taken this measure,” said Colombo police chief Pujith Jayasundara said. “Even vehicles of security forces were not allowed into the area today.”

Owned by a Singapore property developer, the WTC houses the stock market, the office coordinating Colombo’s peace bid with Tiger rebels and several ministries.

The deluxe Colombo Hilton and Galadari hotels are adjacen