New violence hits Sri Lanka , 3 rebels killed, 3 soldiers wounded, 6 villagers found dead
Sun April 23, 2006 11:02 EDT .
DILIP GANGULY - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Sri Lankan government forces on Sunday shot and killed three Tamil rebels in two separate incidents in the country's troubled northeast after the insurgents lobbed hand grenades at the soldiers, the Defense Ministry said. The Trincomalee police chief would not comment on the dead villagers' identities, but another police officer said they were Sinhalese, Sri Lanka - 's ethnic majority.
The bodies had multiple stab wounds, said the officer, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to talk to the media.
Earlier Sunday, troops manning a checkpoint in the town of Kantalai stopped two men. ``One of them threw a hand grenade that wounded a security man,'' military spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said. The troops retaliated, killing the pair, he said.
In another incident, rebels threw hand grenades at troops on patrol near Trincomalee, 215 kilometers (135 miles) northeast of the capital, Colombo, Samarasinghe said. The troops fired back, killing one rebel, he said.
Separately, rebels fired at another military patrol near Trincomalee, wounding two soldiers.
Also Sunday, a Tamil Tiger rebel, questioned by police at a checkpoint near the northern town of Polonnaruwa, bit down on a cyanide capsule carried around his neck in an apparent suicide attempt, Samarasinghe said.
Such capsules are standard issue for fighters belonging to the LTTE as a means of preventing their capture.
Police took the man to a hospital, where he is listed in serious condition, Samarasinghe said.
Also on Sunday, the government urged the international community to press the rebels to attend peace talks in Switzerland.
The new violence comes a day after the rebels rejected efforts by the chief European cease-fire monitor to mediate a dispute with the government over the mode of transport to be used for an internal rebel meeting ahead of the Geneva talks.
On Thursday, the rebels announced they had pulled out of peace talks with the government scheduled for April 24-25 in Geneva, citing increasing attacks on Tamil civilians.
The talks were meant to salvage the 2002 cease-fire that appears to be on the verge of collapse.
The Tamil Tigers began fighting the government in 1983, demanding a separate Tamil homeland and accusing the Sinhalese-dominated government of discrimination. The war left 65,000 people dead before the cease-fire.
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Published: Sun Apr 23 14:32:40 EDT 2006