Mine blast kills 2 in Sri Lanka, Red Cross concerned

COLOMBO ' Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels set off a roadside bomb in northern Sri Lanka on Wednesday killing two soldiers, and the Red Cross said it was concerned at the rising number of civilians killed in the escalating conflict.


Fighting between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil rebels has intensified since the government scrapped a six-year ceasefire pact last month. The government says the rebels had used the truce to re-arm.

The mine blast took place in Vavuniya district where the soldiers had gone on a patrol, military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said.
On Tuesday, troops killed 28 rebel fighters in a series of clashes in Vavuniya as well as the northern Jaffna peninsula and in Polonaruwa and Mannar districts, the military said.

The Tigers have not made any comment on the fighting and analysts say both sides tend to inflate enemy casualty figures in the absence of independent accounts.

But the International Committee of the Red Cross said it was deeply concerned over civilian casualties, including children, as the military steps up the offensive against the Tamil Tigers in their northern strongholds and the rebels retaliate with bombings.

'The number of civilians affected by the violence through the country, either by being directly target or as bystanders, has reached appalling levels,' said Toon Vandenhove, head of Colombo delegation of the ICRC.

'Sadly many of the victims have been children on their way to or from school.'

The ICRC said 180 civilians were reported killed and almost 270 wounded so far this year in bombings on buses, train stations and in the streets. The Sri Lanka government has blamed most of the attacks on the rebels.

The military says it has killed 1,238 rebels since January and that 105 soldiers and 90 civilians have been killed during the same period.

Von: signonsandiego.com, 13.02.2008

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