Sri Lankan navy foils suspected boat bomb attack

Sri Lanka's navy on Friday thwarted a suspected attempted suicide attack by Tamil Tiger rebels using a explosive-laden boat, which blew up when it was hit by fire from navy vessels, a military spokesman said.

In a separate incident Friday, three police and three civilians were injured in an anti-personnel mine blast that government officials also blamed on the rebels.

Friday's attacks were the latest in a cycle of violence in Sri Lanka that has escalated dramatically in recent weeks, raising fears the country may be headed back toward all-out civil war.

Navy spokesman Commander D.K.P. Dassanayake said five navy boats were patrolling near Kalpitiya, a fishing area about 140 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of the capital,Colombo, when they were attacked by four boats.

"When our naval crafts were patrolling in the sea two suspicious boats approached. Another two joined them shortly and started firing at (the) navy boats," Dassanayake said.

The navy boats fired back and one of the attacking boats exploded and sank, Dassanayake said. The size of the blast and the fragments left behind by the blast indicated it was packed with explosives and intended to be used in a suicide attack, reports the AP.