Mine blast killed 4 policemen in Sri Lanka

A mine blast struck a police vehicle Thursday in eastern Sri Lanka, killing four policemen, as Norwegian envoys visited the country to try to salvage its disintegrating cease-fire, an army spokesman said.

The blast hit a police patrol in the town of Kattankudy in Batticaloa district, 225 kilometers (140 miles) east of Colombo, army spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said.

Police were investigating the blast, which killed four policemen, Samarasinghe said. It was triggered by an anti-personnel mine, which are often used by the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels to target Sri Lankan security forces.

On Wednesday, three government forces were killed and a policeman was injured in two mine blasts in northern Sri Lanka.

Also Wednesday, Norwegian envoy Jon Hannsen-Bauer arrived in Colombo and held talks with the government on an early resumption of peace talks with the Tigers, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said.

Bauer was to be joined by Erik Solheim, who negotiated Sri Lanka's 2002 government-rebel cease-fire and is Norway's international development minister, on Friday. They were expected to meet Tiger leaders, hoping to persuade them to go back to the negotiating table.

In Oslo, Solheim on Wednesday sought to play down expectations for his peace mission to Sri Lanka, saying the situation in the country was difficult.

Still, Solheim said the trip was important, coming before a May 30 meeting in Tokyo of sponsors of the peace process: the European Union, Japan, the U.S. and Norway.

The government and rebels held peace talks in Geneva in February, but a second round slated for April was canceled after they blamed rising violence on each other, reports the AP.

I.L.