LTTE blames military for triggering attack

COLOMBO: The Ambassadors of the United States, Italy and Germany on Tuesday escaped with minor injuries when Tiger rebels fired artillery shells at their helicopters in Sri Lanka's east, in one of the worst attacks involving foreign diplomats in the island nation.

The artillery shells fell yards away from one of the military helicopters carrying the diplomats when it landed at a public playground in the eastern district of Batticaloa. Italian Ambassador Pio Mariani suffered head injuries while U.S. Ambassador Robert Blake and German envoy Juergen Weerth received slight injuries in the attack which also left dozens others injured.

The envoys were in a larger group of diplomats being taken from the capital Colombo on a tour of the district by Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe who escaped unhurt. "The Italian Ambassador had an object embedded in his head" but was in a stable condition, Among the injured were four policemen, three Special Task Force commandos, two air force men and a child. PTI

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