Tamil Tiger rebels seek postponement of Geneva peace talks with Sri Lanka , spokesman says
Thu April 13, 2006 06:09 EDT .
Associated Press Writer
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Gunmen fatally shot three Tamil men in northern Sri Lanka, while two others were killed by land mines, police and Tamil rebels said Thursday, as the government eased a curfew in a town hit by fatal bombings and ethnic violence. Two rebels died in separate violence.
The Tamil Tiger rebels, meanwhile, said Thursday they want to postpone peace talks with the Sri Lankan government scheduled to be held in Geneva next week.
``We have asked Norway to announce a fresh date for the talks because we are going to have a central committee meeting before that,'' rebel spokesman Daya Master told The Associated Press.
Norway brokered the 2002 cease-fire, which has come under huge strain following escalating violence in this tropical island, where a two-decade of civil war killed over 65,000 people.
No immediate comment was available from the government.
Violence continued in northern Sri Lanka. Three Tamil civilians were shot in separate incidents late Wednesday and Thursday in the city of Jaffna, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. Two more Tamil civilians were killed in a mine blast Thursday, pro-rebel Web-site TamilNet reported.
The motive behind the killings was not immediately known.
Two Tamil Tiger rebels were also killed in separate ambushes in eastern Batticaloa and northern Vavuniya on Thursday, a rebel Web site said.
The rebels blamed government-backed anti-rebel groups, but the Sri Lankan military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, soldiers patrolled the eastern city of Trincomalee after fatal bombings Wednesday and subsequent ethnic clashes between ethnic Sinhalese and Tamils left a total of 16 people dead.
A curfew in that city was relaxed Thursday to allow residents to get provisions, and there was no report of further violence, Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa told a news conference in Colombo.
``We are taking all precaution'' by boosting security in vulnerable areas and possibly canceling holidays for security forces, Yapa said.
It is festival time in Sri Lanka, with both the Sinhalese and Tamil New Year celebrations falling on Friday.
On Thursday, some 400 extra policemen were posted in capital, Colombo as a precautionary measure, police spokesman Rienzie Perera said.
The majority of Sri Lankans are Sinhalese, but the country's north and parts of the east are dominated by the Tamil minority and partially control by the rebels, who began fighting in 1983 for a separate homeland, accusing the Sinhalese of discrimination.
Yapa alleged that the Tamil Tiger rebels launched the bomb attacks in Trincomalee to provoke a backlash that would unravel the precarious cease-fire, but he said: ``We are not going to fall in the trap.''
Discuss this story
Published: Thu Apr 13 07:26:11 EDT 2006