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Pakistan's Ambassador to Sri Lanka Narrowly Escapes Deadly Blast in Colombo


Pakistan's top diplomat in Sri Lanka has narrowly escaped a powerful explosion that hit his convoy in Colombo.

Seven people were killed and several wounded when a mine in a three-wheeler taxi went off Monday as the Pakistani convoy passed it in the Sri Lankan capital. High Commissioner Bashir Wali Mohamed was not injured.

A Pakistani government spokesperson, Tasnin Aslam, condemned the attack. Four security guards were among those killed in the blast.

There has been no claim of responsibility.

Meanwhile, Tamil Tiger rebels accused the government of bombing an orphanage and a church in rebel-held territory in northeastern Sri Lanka. The rebels said 61 schoolgirls were killed and about 150 others were wounded. The government denied responsibility for the incident.

A U.N. spokeswoman, Orla Clinton, confirmed at least 19 students were killed.

The head of the government's peace secretariat, Palitha Kohona, said Sunday the rebels had sent an informal offer to resume peace talks and that Colombo had accepted. The official said the offer was conveyed through a Nordic ceasefire monitoring mission on Friday.

But the head of the Tamil Tigers' peace secretariat, S. Puleedevan, says the rebels made no proposals for peace talks.

The Nordic mission's spokesman, Thorfinnur Omarsson, says the mission had relayed messages but the monitors have not received a formal request from either side.\

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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