US and Italian ambassadors attacked in Sri Lanka

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake, Jr.

The U.S. and Italian ambassadors to Sri Lanka were "slightly injured" when their helicopters were targeted by mortars on a landing strip in Batticaloa.

The projectiles were fired by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers) in Sri Lanka's east on Tuesday, officials said.

U.S. ambassador Robert Blake is reported to be "alright", Italian Pio Mariani suffered head wounds from shrapnel. They had already landed and disembarked from their aircraft when the explosions took place.

A spokesman for LTTE said they mistook them for a military target, and have apologized. They blame the military, who they say landed the diplomats in a site used for attacks on the rebels, even this very morning.

The ambassadors were reportedly visiting the area that was recently liberated by the Sri Lankan forces to observe the development activities of the area.