Bus carrying Sri Lankan soldiers attacked: 12 killed, 8 wounded

A bus carrying Sri Lankan soldiers on New Year holidays hit by a mine planted by suspected Tamil Tiger rebels in the northeast Tuesday, killing 12 navy sailors and wounding eight others, the military said.

The Claymore mine, which can be detonated by remote control, exploded as the bus was traveling from the port town of Trincomalee to the capital, Colombo, said military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe.

Samarasinghe blamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for the blast.

"Surely it is their work, who else," Samarasinghe said.

It was the second attack on Sri Lankan troops in as many days. On Monday, a mine blast killed five soldiers and two relief workers in the northern town of Jaffna.

The blast Tuesday occurred as top cease-fire monitor Ulf Henricsson was meeting Tamil Tiger leaders, including its political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan, in northern Sri Lanka to discuss the anti-personnel mine blast Monday.

"The talks had already been scheduled about preparations for Geneva talks, but this issue will now be brought up as well," Helen Olafsdottir, spokeswoman for European cease-fire monitors, said about Monday's blast.

The government and Tiger rebels are scheduled to meet for peace talks in Switzerland from April 19-21.

Sri Lanka's military also blamed the rebels for Monday's Claymore blast, but the LTTE denied responsibility.

There was no immediate rebel comment available on Tuesday's attack.

The Tigers are known for using Claymore mines, which fire hundreds of steel balls propelled by plastic explosives. The mines can be detonated by remote control, reports the AP.

I.L.