Three die as international concern mounts over Sri Lanka violence

May 24, 2006 (AFP) – Three security personnel died in a mine blast Wednesday, the Sri Lanka military said, as a Norwegian peace envoy arrived to salvage a collapsing ceasefire that has sparked mounting international concern. Oslo’s number two peace emissary, Jon Hanssen-Bauer, arrived Wednesday and will be joined by the country’s top peace envoy Erik Solheim on Friday, Sri Lanka government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

“They are coming here to put pressure on the Tigers to come to the negotiating table,” Rambukwella said. “We are doing everything on our side to start the talks.”

The Norwegian peace mission began as two soldiers and a policeman were killed in the Claymore mine attack blamed on Tamil Tigers in the island’s north, military spokesman Prasad Samarasinghe said.

In eastern Sri Lanka the two sides exchanged mortar fire but there were no immediate reports of casualties in the battle at Vavunathivu in Batticaloa district.

The exchange occurred as the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) were holding the funeral of a senior field commander shot dead on Sunday in Batticaloa.

The Tigers warned the killing of their eastern region intelligence leader, identified as Colonel Ramanan, could