Death toll hits 22 in Sri Lanka violence, mine blasts threaten truce

Seven Sri Lankan soldiers were killed Tuesday in a landmine attack in the northern town of Jaffna, the second major attack blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels in three days, as the new army chief vowed to take on terrorism. Seven Sri Lankan soldiers were killed Tuesday in a landmine attack in the northern town of Jaffna, the second major attack blamed on Tamil Tiger rebels in three days, as the new army chief vowed to take on terrorism. Six soldiers and one officer were riding in a tractor-trailer near a landmark Hindu temple some 400 kilometres (250 miles) north of the capital Colombo when a claymore mine went off, officials said.

“The troops had been on a foot patrol clearing the road and they were returning in a tractor when they were ambushed with a claymore mine,” said Defence Ministry spokesman Brigadier Nalin Witharanage.

Troops on a nearby foot patrol opened fire amid the carnage, but it was unclear if the firing caused any casualties in a built-up area.

The blast followed the deaths of seven soldiers from a similar explosion Sunday on the Jaffna peninsula, which was blamed on the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) despite a ceasefire in force since February 2002.

Meanwhile, three m