Suspected Tamil rebels fire on political opponent; 3 soldiers injured in attacks
Sat July 8, 2006 12:35 EDT .
KRISHAN FRANCIS - Associated Press Writer - COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - (AP) Suspected Tamil Tiger rebels shot and wounded a political opponent and a passer-by and three soldiers were wounded in separate attacks in Sri Lanka - 's troubled north on Saturday, the army said. China has in the past been a major weapons supplier to Sri Lanka - and the Island newspaper said that Colombo was looking to beef up its navy arsenal to combat the Tiger's explosive-laden boats.
The Foreign Ministry dismissed the report and said Samaraweera's Beijing meetings would not focus on defense matters.
Suspected Tigers shot a member of a political party that opposes the rebels while he was walking near a hospital in Jaffna, 300 kilometers (185 miles) north of Colombo, the army said in a statement on its Web site.
Raja Premkumar was hospitalized with bullet wounds on one hand, the statement said.
A passer-by also was wounded in the attack, the army said.
Premkumar is a member of the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam, or PLOTE, a former separatist militant group, the statement said.
The PLOTE fought alongside the Tamil Tigers to try to carve out a separate homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils until 1987, when the PLOTE gave up militancy and entered mainstream politics.
The Tigers have since targeted the group, accusing it of collaborating with the military in operations against Tiger fighters.
Later Saturday two soldiers were wounded when suspected rebels hurled a grenade at an army point and another soldier was seriously injured when he stepped on a mine in northern Jaffna, the military said.
Police are recruiting and training 2,500 men to protect people living in majority Sinhalese villages in the northeast, which have been targeted by Tamil rebels, government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella said Saturday.
In April, suspected rebels stormed a Sinhalese village and killed six rice farmers. In another Sinhalese village last month, suspected rebels targeting a bus detonated a mine, killing 64 civilians.
More than 700 people have been killed since December in escalating violence after a nearly four-year cease-fire brought relative calm. Both the government and the rebels deny responsibility for the violence and blame each other for cease-fire violations.
The Tigers began fighting a separatist war in 1983, and more than 65,000 people on both sides were killed before a 2002 Norway-brokered truce.
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Published: Sat Jul 8 14:00:18 EDT 2006