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[March 25, 2006]

Suicide blast kills 6 rebels, leaves 8 sailors missing in Sri Lanka+

(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)COLOMBO, March 25_(Kyodo) _ At least six Tamil Tiger rebels were killed and eight Sri Lankan Navy personnel went missing Saturday when rebels blew up their trawler and sank a naval gunboat that approached the vessel for inspection.


"It was not an attack on us," Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe, a military spokesman, said. "They got scared as we approached them and blew themselves up."

The force of the blast from the trawler sank the naval vessel which had 19 crew members on board. "Eleven sailors were rescued and eight are missing," Samarasinghe said.

Diplomats said they fear that the incident in the country's northern waters may endanger the ongoing peace talks between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government, which were revived in February after a three-year break.

Talks in Geneva last month are due to be followed by a second meeting in the same city late in April.

In January, there was a similar incident near an eastern Trincomalee harbor when a naval gunboat was blasted by suspected rebels. The navy accused Tamil Tigers of ramming their boat into the gunboat.

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