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Bomb Targets Sri Lanka Market as Increased Violence Threatens Truce

A bomb explosion in a market has killed at least seven people and wounded dozens others in the Sri Lankan town of Trincomalee. Two policemen were killed in a separate incident. European truce monitors are concerned about the rising violence in the country, which is struggling to end a three-decade ethnic conflict.

Police say the bomb exploded in a busy vegetable market in the northeastern town of Trincomalee, killing or wounding dozens of people. There were reports that clashes erupted after the explosion, prompting authorities to clamp a curfew on the port town.

Trincomalee is one of the few places in Sri Lanka where the majority Sinhalese live alongside minority Tamil and Muslim communities.

Just hours before the bomb explosion, two policemen were killed and two others injured when a landmine destroyed their truck.

European truce monitors supervising a four-year-old ceasefire in the country expressed concern about the rising violence. A spokeswoman for the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, Helen Olafsdottir, said the situation appears to be spiraling "out of control."

"The situation has been so bad that the monitors have not been going to the scene," she said. " They have set a curfew, so hopefully that will work to stop this from completely escalating out of control, but the situation for sure is very bad."

The latest violence follows two landmine attacks that have killed 16 military personnel since Monday. The government has blamed Tamil Tiger rebels for these attacks, but the rebels have denied responsibility.

The violence is putting the country's fragile truce under fresh pressure, and may derail a second round of peace talks between the government and the rebels due to be held next week. The two sides opened peace talks in February, and agreed to uphold the ceasefire that came into force four years ago.

The Tamil rebels have been waging a three-decade struggle for an autonomous homeland for their minority community. The 2002 ceasefire halted the fighting, but the two sides have made little headway in negotiating a lasting solution to the conflict.