July 19, 2006 (AFP) – Sweden Wednesday launched a fresh effort to salvage Sri Lanka’s troubled truce as ceasefire monitors reported at least 900 people killed in a surge of ethnic violence since December. Swedish envoy Andres Oljelund met Sri Lankan officials here and was set to hold discussions with Tamil Tiger rebels ahead of a September 1 deadline for monitors from European Union member states to leave the island, officials said.
The rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) demanded that monitors from Denmark, Finland and Sweden get out after the European Union in May banned the guerrillas as a terrorist organisation.
“The Swedish envoy is here to have talks with both sides following the LTTE demand for ceasefire monitors from EU member states to leave by September 1,” defence ministry spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.
He said the envoy was representing monitors from the three EU member Nordic nations and will focus on the current crisis facing the Swedish-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM).
But as talks began, a powerful mine exploded in northern Sri Lanka, killing two people and wounding 15, most of them passengers on a military bus, military officials said.