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Sri Lankan rebels’ attack kills 93 sailors

Tue., Oct. 17, 2006

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Tamil rebels rammed a truck packed with explosives into a convoy of military buses Monday, killing at least 93 sailors in one of the deadliest insurgent attacks since the 2002 cease-fire.

The military said more than 150 were wounded in the attack near the town of Dambulla, about 90 miles northeast of the capital, Colombo.

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s office said in a statement that the attack “was further proof of the (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)’s unmitigated commitment to violence to achieve its ends and was in total disregard of international demands for it to abandon violence and seek peaceful means to achieve its goals.”

The attack comes as a Japanese envoy met with the president Monday amid intensified diplomatic efforts to strengthen the peace process between the government and rebels ahead of scheduled talks between the two sides later this month in Switzerland.

It was not immediately clear what impact the attack would have on those talks. There was no immediate comment from the rebels on the attack, although they routinely deny involvement.

The envoy, Yasushi Akashi, also planned to travel to the rebel stronghold in the north to talk with the Tiger leadership during his five days in Sri Lanka. A Japanese Embassy spokesman said he had no information yet on whether those plans would change following the attack.

Sri Lanka has seen some of the bloodiest fighting since a Norwegian-brokered cease-fire was signed in 2002, temporarily ending nearly two decades of civil war. Heavy battles last Wednesday on the northern Jaffna Peninsula left hundreds of combatants dead, despite commitments by both the government and rebels to return to the negotiating table.


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