Tamil Tiger rebels accuse Sri Lankan troops of penetrating their territory and killing 4
Thu July 13, 2006 10:14 EDT .
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) _ Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels accused the government of violating a truce by penetrating their territory and killing four of their troops Thursday, while authorities said they found a powerful bomb near the residence of a government minister.
Keheliya Rambukwella, the minister for policy development and implementation, said that security officials recovered the bomb near his residence in the central town of Kandy, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Colombo.
``This is clearly terrorism,'' Rambukwella said, implying Tamil Tiger rebels may have planted the bomb.
Rebel leaders could not be contacted for comments.
Government officials denied troops entered rebel-held areas, but said suspected rebels on Thursday killed three soldiers and injured three others in an attack in the Tamil's heartland in the north.
As a spike in violence that has left 700 dead since December pushes the country toward an all-out civil war, both sides are careful not to admit any actions that would violate a 2002 Norwegian-brokered cease-fire.
The rebels generally say they are defending themselves from attacks or intrusions forbidden by the truce, or blame attacks on frustrated Tamils acting without the rebel's authority.
The government blames attacks in rebel territory on factional fighting. In battles in its territory, the military claims it is responding to rebel attacks or provocations.
A report on the pro-rebel TamilNet Web site that a group of soldiers entered the rebel-held region in Trincomalee district, 215 kilometers (135 miles) northeast of the capital, Colombo, Wednesday night and killed four fighters.
Military Spokesman Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe denied the report, saying ``we don't go into those areas'' because it would constitute a violation of the cease-fire agreement.
In Vavuniya, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Colombo, two soldiers were killed when suspected rebels exploded a grenade and fired with automatic rifles on soldiers who were guarding a street, said Gamini Silva, a top police official from the region.
Separately, suspected rebels fatally shot a soldier guarding a forward defense line in Omanthai in northern Vavuniya district and wounded another, said Silva.
Earlier Thursday, Sri Lankan troops recovered the bodies of two suspected Tamil rebels believed killed in a shootout the previous night, and police found the bullet-riddled body of a Tamil political activist opposed to the rebels near the northern town of Vavuniya.
The victim, Ratnam Sriskandarajah, 43, was a member of the People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam, said S. Augustin, a police officer.
Augustin said the rebels were suspected of having abducted Sriskandarajah on Wednesday night.
PLOTE had earlier fought beside the Tigers to carve out an independent homeland for ethnic minority Tamils, but later gave up arms and joined mainstream politics.
The Tigers have since targeted party members, accusing them of collaborating with government troops in battling Tiger fighters.
The Tamil Tigers, formally named the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, have fought the government since 1983. They accuse the majority Sinhalese of discrimination against Tamils.
More than 65,000 people were killed before the cease-fire.
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Published: Thu Jul 13 11:26:49 EDT 2006